OneWeb

OneWeb Minisatellite Constellation for Global Internet Service

Development Status    Launch    Mission Status    Ground Segment    References 

 

On June 15, 2015, Airbus Defence and Space announced that it has been selected by OneWeb Ltd. (UK) as its industrial partner for the design and manufacturing of its fleet of microsatellites. The program is backed by the Virgin Group,Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Qualcomm, Airbus Group, and others. This initial production of 900 satellites, each with a mass of ~150 kg, is planned for launch into LEO (Low Earth Orbit) beginning in 2018 to deliver affordable Internet access globally. 1) 2) 3)

Airbus, which up to now has built large one-off satellites, will have to upgrade its satellite manufacturing approach to complete up to four satellites a day. Design and production of the first 10 satellites will be carried out at Airbus Defence and Space’s facilities in Toulouse (France). Full series production will take place at a dedicated plant located in the USA.

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Figure 1: OneWeb intends to cover the Earth with a nominal constellation of 648 LEO minisatellites built by Airbus Defence and Space (image credit: Airbus DS)

Of the constellation, 648 of them will be placed in18 orbital planes with an altitude of about 1200 km. The remaining satellites will be used as spares on the ground or in orbit. Launches are expected to begin in 2018, probably using Virgin Galactic, and the system should be operational by 2020.

The funding allows OneWeb to further develop key technologies to enable affordable broadband for rural and underdeveloped locations. The OneWeb User Terminals are optionally solar powered, and with their embedded LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard, 3G, 2G and WiFi access capabilities will extend the mobile operator’s reach. The network will also provide unprecedented speeds and low latency access to ships, planes, trains and oil platforms while providing seamless interoperability with Intelsat’s fleet of Ku-band satellites.

Following the announcement on June 15 of its joint venture with Airbus Group (pending regulatory approvals) to design and manufacture its first 900 microsatellites, OneWeb announced on June 25 the largest commercial rocket acquisition ever of more than 65 rockets including 21 Soyuz launch orders from Arianespace. Arianespace will utilize the Soyuz launch pads from Guiana Space Center, Baikonur and additional launch pads from Russia to ensure the timely deployment. 4)

Virgin Galactic has signed a contract with OneWeb Ltd. to serve as one of its inaugural satellite launch providers. Under the terms of the Launch Services Agreement, Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne rocket will perform 39 satellite launches for OneWeb—one of the largest commercial procurements of launches in history. 5)

In July 2015, ESA announced support of the planned megaconstellations like OneWeb and LeoSat to ensure that the European and Canadian space industry remains competitive in the face of what could be a major transformation of the Satcom industry. ESA has established the ARTES 3-4 Megaconstellations Opportunity. Recognizing the urgency of the matter and the tight development schedules that will be required as well as the very high stakes involved, a new dedicated ARTES 3-4 Call for Proposals will be announced in the coming weeks which will run until June 2016. 6)

In April 2016, OneWeb has filed an application with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) seeking access to the U.S. market for their planned LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite system. The company’s constellation is anticipated to make broadband connectivity available in unserved or underserved regions today, and when fully deployed, to support services including cellular backhaul, mobility services, community and residential Internet access, and emergency communications in the U.S. and globally. 7)

OneWeb’s application demonstrates that the system will comply with the Commission's rules and the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) requirements for highly spectrum-efficient sharing of the Ku-band and Ka-band with geostationary satellites. The progressive pitch technology is designed to modify the orientation and power level of the OneWeb satellites as they pass over the equator, thereby enabling sharing with geostationary satellite operators.


Some background: WorldVu Satellites Limited, operating as OneWeb, Ltd, announced in June 2015 plans to build, launch and operate a LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite constellation to help bring high-speed Internet and telephony to billions of people around the world. Qualcomm Inc. and The Virgin Group have been announced as initial investors, with Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson to join OneWeb founder Greg Wyler on the company's board of directors. 8) 9)

According to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), as of the end of 2014, more than half the world’s population lacks Internet access. OneWeb, founded in 2012 under the name WorldVu, hopes to bring high-speed Internet and telephony to people living in underserved areas. The OneWeb satellite system introduces the first-ever telecom-class microsatellites.

OneWeb aims to provide user terminals that are self-installable, enabling coverage in these areas for any nearby phone, computer or tablet. OneWeb’s network would also be able to provide global emergency and first responder access for disaster situations, refugee camps or other areas in need.

OneWeb’s regulatory license allows it to operate, but only on condition that its broadcasts do not bother Ku-band signals from satellites in higher orbit, which by virtue of being there for the past several decades have established priority with international regulators. Standing on the shoulders of now-dead constellations of 15 years ago that successfully fought for low-orbiting constellations’ ability to coexist with the geostationary operators, OneWeb has committed to lower its power output around the equator to avoid interference. 10)

• June 1, 2016: As anticipated, the proposed merger between Intelsat and Jersey-based satellite constellation OneWeb has been pulled. Intelsat, in a statement issued early on June 1st, said that not enough of its bond-holders had agreed the terms of the SoftBank-enabled financial restructuring to make the scheme work. Intelsat needed an 85 % acceptance level of the new terms on offer, and by the midnight May 31st deadline acceptance levels were short of this amount. 17)

- Intelsat’s president/CEO Stephen Spengler, said he was disappointed by the result. However, as expected, he outlined that a relationship would continue with OneWeb. “Even without a merger of our companies, the pre-existing commercial agreement among Intelsat, OneWeb and SoftBank will continue. Under this agreement, we plan to jointly develop integrated solutions utilizing both of our fleets and to act as a sub-distributor to SoftBank for the attractive application segments of mobility, energy, government, and connected car. As we create integrated services for these applications, we expect to accelerate and enhance our goal of unlocking new and larger opportunities in the communications landscape. We remain focused on achieving our operating priorities for 2017, including the continued commercialization of our Intelsat Epic high throughput satellite services.”

• March 16, 2017: Intelsat announced a merger with OneWeb that will transform the satellite industry. The companies announced an agreement in which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction, with Japan's SoftBank Group agreeing to invest $1.7 billion in the combined company. 16)

- This agreement has the potential of creating a space industry leader in both GEO and LEO. The new combined company will be unique in its ability to provide affordable broadband anywhere in the world. Intelsat was an early equity investor in OneWeb, recognizing the inherent advantage of a new network that could complement Intelsat's next-generation Intelsat EpicNG high-throughput satellite fleet.

• February 28, 2017: Intelsat and OneWeb have entered into a definitive combination agreement pursuant to which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction. Intelsat and SoftBank Group Corp. ('SoftBank') also entered into a definitive share purchase agreement. Both the merger and the SoftBank investment are subject to, among other conditions, successful completion of debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders as well as receipt of certain regulatory approvals. 15)

- The complementary strengths of Intelsat and OneWeb, combined with the investment by SoftBank, are intended to create a financially stronger company with the flexibility to aggressively pursue new growth opportunities resulting from the explosion in demand for broadband connectivity for people and devices everywhere.

• Dec. 21, 2016: OneWeb reports it has secured $1.2 billion in funded capital from SoftBank and existing investors, of which $1 billion will come from SoftBank. The $1.2 billion fundraising round announced will support OneWeb's revolutionary technological development and the construction of the world's first and only high volume satellite production facility. 14)

The new facility, based in Exploration Park, Florida will be capable of producing 15 satellites per week at a fraction of the cost of what any satellite manufacturing facility in the world can produce today, and expediting construction, launch and operations of its communications network. The investment is expected to create nearly 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and supporting jobs in the U.S. over the next four years.

• June 1, 2016: MDA from Canada, Sodern from France and Teledyne Defence from the UK are now part (subcontractors) of the OneWeb venture. To equip each of the 900 satellites forming the OneWeb fleet, MDA will provide on board antenna systems, Sodern has customized to constellation its star tracker technology, while Teledyne Defence has designed communications repeater equipment derived from its high volume manufacturing heritage. 13)

• April 19, 2016: OneWeb Satellites LLC is preparing to break ground on the firm's new, estimated, $85 million, high volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, Florida. 12)

- Announced during a ceremony with Florida Governor Rick Scott and OneWeb founder Greg Wyler, the factory near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is set to open in 2017. Delivery of initial satellites will occur later that year or early in 2018. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite based Internet provider, and Airbus Defence and Space.

- The high volume satellite factory will be built in partnership with the State of Florida and Space Florida and is anticipated to create nearly 250 direct jobs. It will bring further growth and development to the world’s-leading space industry in Florida. The facility of ~10,000 m2 will be the industry’s first satellite factory designed to mass-produce spacecraft cost effectively using automated assembly and test capabilities similar to those used in aircraft production facilities.

January 26, 2016: Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, and OneWeb, which is building a new global satellite communications system, announced the creation of OneWeb Satellites. The new joint venture, equally owned by Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb, will design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed Internet with global coverage. The new company will be led by Brian Holz as CEO. 11)

OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture equally owned by Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb

Company to design and build 900 satellites for OneWeb, as well as satellites for other future constellations marketed by Airbus Defence and Space

OneWeb Satellites will also be able to build satellites, platforms and equipment to be marketed by Airbus Defence and Space to other operators of future constellations.

“The next stage of the OneWeb adventure is here! On both sides of the Atlantic, our teams are now working under a common flag to meet the incredible challenge: to mass-produce 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation,” said Eric Béranger, Head of Programs Space Systems. “For several months now, we have been working on the design of this unprecedented constellation and how we are going to manufacture them – both ground-breaking in their own way. The next step will be to set up a prototype line in Toulouse for production of the first 10 satellites. This will also be used to test the industrialization method for the series production of the other satellites.”

"Airbus is a key partner to our success as we move forward and are very happy to have them being a part of OneWeb and our new joint venture. We are benefiting from Airbus Defence and Space’s manufacturing and assembly knowledge as we look to initiate services,” said Matt O’Connell, CEO of OneWeb. “As we build out the constellation, besides its very reliable satellite performance heritage and technical support, Airbus brings design for manufacturing capability into this operation which is key to achieving both our short term and long term goals for providing cost effective solutions on time for our future customers,” O’Connell added.

OneWeb Satellites will undertake design activities for the entire satellite fleet and the manufacture of the first 10 flight models will take place in France, with the first ever mass production of the operational satellites planned for North America. Each satellite will weigh less than 150 kg and will operate in low Earth orbit. They will be launched by Arianespace and Virgin Galactic starting from 2018 and reach their orbital positions using electrical propulsion.

Table 1: Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb create the OneWeb Satellites company – the next stage of the OneWeb adventure 11) 12) 13) 14) 15) 16) 17)


• March 20, 2018: Citing recent reforms that provide more time to orbit a new satellite constellation, satellite broadband-startup OneWeb asked U.S. telecom regulators to nearly triple the size of its authorized low-Earth-orbit constellation. 18)

- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June approved OneWeb’s request to serve customers in the United States using a constellation of 720 satellites. Writing to the commission March 19, OneWeb asked that the company be permitted another 1,260 satellites, bringing the total number to 1,980 spacecraft.

- OneWeb said the FCC’s September decision to give companies more time to fully deploy their constellations enables OneWeb to plan a larger fleet. The FCC previously required companies to launch 100 percent of their satellites within six years of authorization. Under the new rules, companies have six years to deploy half their fleet.

- “OneWeb responsibly designed its LEO Constellation on the basis of a milestone regime that required launch and operation of the entire constellation within a six-year time frame .... If the current milestone regime had been in effect when OneWeb began planning its constellation and network architecture, OneWeb would have proposed a much more expansive LEO Constellation,” the company wrote the FCC.

- The FCC imposes deployment deadlines to prevent companies from “warehousing” spectrum, laying claim to frequencies and barring them from use by other companies. The new regulations require full constellation deployment in nine years. If an operator fails to reach full deployment in that time, its authorized number of satellites shrinks to the number already in orbit. OneWeb spoke against the FCC modifying constellation deployment deadlines during last year’s rulemaking procedure.

- OneWeb said the new satellites will use the same Ku- and Ka-band spectrum as the first 720 satellites. To accommodate the additional 1,260, OneWeb said it would double the number of orbital planes from 18 to 36, and increase the maximum number of satellites per plane from 40 to 55.

- The larger fleet will require more ground stations, OneWeb said, with as many as 50 antennas each to connect with the constellation. OneWeb’s gateway supplier Hughes Network Systems of Germantown, Maryland, said March 13 that it has shipped the first completed gateways.

OneWeb’s modified LEO plans follow a Jan. 4 request to revise a pending application before the FCC for a medium-Earth-orbit constellation of 1,280 satellites, also for broadband. The company asked the FCC for twice as many satellites — 2,560 total — for MEO, and to expand its frequencies from the scarcely used V-band to include Ku-, Ka-, and the seldom used E-band.

OneWeb gave the same explanation for the additional MEO satellites, namely that the new FCC rules allow more time to deploy a constellation.

“The Commission’s dramatic relaxation of the milestone rules mid-way through various Commission processing rounds has compelled OneWeb to reassess what it can achieve now in the newly expanded milestone timeframe,” OneWeb wrote Jan 4.

OneWeb made no mention of the impact these changes may have on a move by Boeing to transfer one of its V-band constellation filings to OneWeb founder Greg Wyler. Boeing asked the FCC in December to swap ownership of its 1,396- to 2,956-satellite V-band filing to a company under Wyler’s name called SOM1101 LLC.

The FCC has not yet authorized any of the six V-band constellations submitted in 2016 and 2017. To date, the FCC approved three new non-geostationary satellite systems in Ku- and Ka-band for market access: OneWeb, fleet operator Telesat of Canada for 117 LEO satellites, and Space Norway for two satellites in highly elliptical orbits. Another eight proposals are still under consideration, including SpaceX’s Starlink constellation of 4,425 satellites that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai publicly supported last month.

Table 2: Doubling MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) Constellation (Ref. 18)

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Figure 2: OneWeb space segment (image credit: OneWeb) 19)

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Figure 3: OneWeb system architecture (image credit: OneWeb)




Satellite production

OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus DS (Defence and Space):

• Airbus DS is responsible for the design and fabrication of OneWeb satellites

• The first 10 satellites will be built in Toulouse to validate the design and manufacturing processes

• A satellite factory is being built next to KSC (Kennedy Space Center) in Florida. 20)

- $85 million facility

- More than 13,900 m2 in size

- Set to open in 2018

- State-of-the art assembly and I&T (Integration and Test).

• Production contract

- Initial production of 900 satellites

- Peak production rate of 1-2 satellites per day.

• June 27, 2017: OneWeb has inaugurated their assembly line in Toulouse, France, to start end-to-end validation, testing, and integration of their first satellites, set for launch in a little more than nine months. 21)

- The 4,600 m2 Toulouse facility will serve to validate the production methods necessary to manufacture high-performance satellites at a scale never achieved before, de-risk any potential issues, and lay the framework for the larger multi-line OneWeb Satellites factory near the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The initial 10 pilot and Toulouse-built satellites, after having undergone a comprehensive set of tests, will become the first of OneWeb's fleet.

- Benefiting from the industrial and space expertise at Airbus, this assembly line will include state-of-the-art automation, test equipment and data acquisition capabilities to shorten assembly times and provide means to analyze factory performance and process improvements. These satellites will provide valuable in-orbit data to confirm the design of the spacecraft and proceed with fine tune adjustments if necessary. They will also enable nearly real-time detection and correction of any anomalies in the manufacturing process.

- As well as building the fleet of satellites, OneWeb Satellites will provide customized versions of these ultra-high performance satellites, platforms and core technologies to Airbus to support their third party sales to other commercial and government operators globally. The mini-satellites, coming from the huge production line, will enable new cost and performance paradigms for those looking to benefit from the advantages satellites can bring to Earth observation, sensor and telecommunications markets. The development of this facility has been supported by Bpifrance in the framework of the French PIA (Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir) program .

- Greg Wyler, Founder and Chairman of OneWeb, stated that the company has just about nine months until the first of the fleet launches into orbit. Then, if all goes well, OneWeb will initiate the world's largest launch campaign, sending new satellites up every 21 days and building not just a fleet but a digital bridge to enable affordable broadband access for the billions of unconnected around the world.

• On October 25, 2017: OneWeb's new satellite constellation is being built with a mission to close the global digital divide by 2027, bringing speeds of up to 2.5 Gbit/s direct to homes around the world, according to the company's Founder and Executive Chairman, Greg Wyler. 22)

- Wyler testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology at a hearing entitled "The Commercial Satellite Industry: What's Up and What's on the Horizon." Wyler discussed OneWeb's approach to providing broadband Internet through the firm's global satellite constellation, which will service Alaska starting in 2019, and in the following year, the constellation coverage will reach every square mile of America and territories, leaving no one behind. In June of this year, OneWeb received the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) first approval for market access to launch satellites and ultimately provide Internet services to Americans.

- Wyler's testimony detailed some of the early accomplishments of OneWeb, which included breaking ground on a new $85 million satellite production facility in Exploration Park, Florida, that will manufacture the firm's satellites and ultimately employ 250 people. The facility, opening in 2018, will be capable of producing 15 satellites per week and will have tremendous multiplier effects for the regional economy.

- OneWeb's rockets are in place and the first launch is scheduled for May of 2018. This global system will mean a brighter future for the half of America with substandard access to the Internet, primarily in rural areas, and will be a foundation for ubiquitous 5G service, enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), connected vehicles, telemedicine and online education.


OneWeb Satellite Design and Production

In order to produce 900 satellites in such a short time span with an unprecedented production rate of up to 15 satellites per week, a disruptive approach towards design and production for space applications had to be taken. Design-to cost, design to manufacture and test approaches have been implemented throughout the program, from the selection of components, production of equipment and satellite assembly, integration and testing. 23) 24)

Large-scale production and test approaches from other industries, including advanced levels of automation, have been applied and merged with established space methods adapted to the large scale of the OneWeb’s constellation. State-of-the-art robotics, inspection methods, test equipment and automated data acquisition systems will be implemented to support end-to-end integration and test activities.

The OneWeb Satellites will be of the 200 kg class and are designed for a 5 years life-time. At a size of roughly 1 m x 1 m x 1.3 m, they feature two external solar panels, electric propulsion and antennas for the user links in Ku-band and the gateway links in Ka-band. When a OneWeb satellite nears the end of its intended service life, it will de-orbit automatically, ensuring that the space around our planet remains free and clear for future generations, being therefore fully compliant with existing IADC (Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee) regulations.

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Figure 4: Illustration of the OneWeb satellite (image credit: Airbus DS)

The OneWeb 3rd Party Platform Program

As an interesting side product of the OneWeb program, additional recurring OneWeb platforms, i.e. excluding the OneWeb mission specific Payload, will be produced and commercially sold to external customers for the so called “3rd party” missions. Based on the design experience and the capabilities of the high throughput production line, this offers a uniquely affordable and powerful solution to the 150 kg class of satellites.

The bare OneWeb platform can accommodate payloads of up to 60 kg. It can provide for an Earth panel surface for external units of up to 750 x 850 mm2 and supply an on-orbit average power of up to 200 W end of life. Qualified to high reliability standards within the OneWeb program, it is designed for a 5 years minimum lifetime in LEO orbits up to 1200 km altitude. It is compatible with dedicated and shared launches. Its electric propulsion system allows for high flexibility in orbit parameters, provides significant orbit raising capability and makes it compliant with post-mission disposal regulations.

Airbus DS will act as a one-stop shop for third party applications offering design and development services as well as launch, LEOP and in orbit operations if requested by the customer. A dedicated organization has been implemented within Airbus DS for this purpose. Production lines are available in Europe and the US to adapt to customer needs. First platforms are envisioned to be available for 3rd party applications from late-2018/early-2019.




OneWeb development status

• Eutelsat and OneWeb said July 26 they have agreed a plan to merge their businesses to create a global multi-orbit satellite broadband operator. 25)

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Figure 5: Eutelsat headquarters are located in Paris, France (image credit: Simon Lambert/REA)

- The deal would combine France-based Eutelsat’s satellite fleet in geostationary orbit (GEO) with British startup OneWeb’s constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO).

- Eutelsat already owns 23% of OneWeb and has been building a position in the startup to strengthen connectivity services amid a gradual decline in its satellite TV business.

- The combined company would be “the first multi-orbit satellite operator offering integrated GEO and LEO solutions,” Eutelsat said, targeting a satellite connectivity market projected to be worth $16 billion by 2030.

- It comes amid plans for other multi-orbit combinations that seek synergies from integrating satellites operating in GEO and LEO.

- A satellite fixed in GEO can provide more capacity to a specific region than non-geostationary satellites in a megaconstellation that has to serve the entire globe. Constellations closer to the Earth, however, promise low-latency solutions that can integrate with terrestrial infrastructure more effectively.

- Eutelsat’s European rival SES operates a satellite network in GEO and medium Earth orbit (MEO).

- U.S.-based GEO broadband operator Viasat is in the middle of acquiring British satellite fleet operator Inmarsat, which has plans for satellites in LEO and highly elliptical orbit.

- Canadian GEO operator Telesat plans to start deploying LEO satellites for its delayed Lightspeed constellation in 2025.

- Intelsat had also tried to merge with OneWeb but scrapped the deal in 2017 after failing to win support from debt holders to buy the company.

- Indian telecom company Bharti Global is OneWeb’s largest shareholder. Other shareholders include Japanese internet giant SoftBank, South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems and the British government.

- French state-owned investment bank Bpifrance is the largest shareholder in publicly listed Eutelsat.

- The Chinese government is Eutelsat’s fourth-largest shareholder via sovereign fund China Investment Corp, reported Reuters citing data from financial research firm Refinitiv.

The deal

- Eutelsat and OneWeb signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combine through an all-share transaction that would result in Eutelsat taking over OneWeb, although the British government would continue to hold a share in the British startup with priority voting rights.

- OneWeb’s shareholders would contribute their stake in the startup to Eutelsat in exchange for newly issued shares in the French company, valuing OneWeb at $3.4 billion.

- Eutelsat and OneWeb shareholders would each get 50% of the combined company’s shares.

- The companies said the transaction has the backing of each of their long-term investors, including Bpifrance and French investment firm Fonds Stratégique de Participations on Eutelsat’s side, and Bharti, SoftBank, Hanwha and the British government for OneWeb.

- Eutelsat plans to hold a shareholder meeting in the first half of 2023 to vote on the deal. The transaction also requires regulatory approvals, including permission from foreign investment authorities.

- OneWeb would continue to operate the LEO business from its headquarters in the U.K. following the deal, and Eutelsat would remain headquartered in France and listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange.

- The combined group’s board of directors would comprise 15 members: seven proposed by OneWeb and seven by Eutelsat in addition to its CEO Eva Berneke, who would be CEO for the combined group.

- Eutelsat’s chair Dominique D’Hinnin is being lined up to take on the same role for the merged company, while Bharti founder Sunil Bharti Mittal would be co-chair.

- The companies expect to complete the merger by the end of the first half of 2023.

Industry shake-up

- The proposed transformational deal comes after Eutelsat’s board rejected an unsolicited $3.2 billion takeover attempt in September from Patrick Drahi, the billionaire magnate who founded multinational telecommunications firm Altice.

- Former CEO Rodolphe Belmer announced plans a month later to leave Eutelsat after six years with the company.

- Berneke, a technology and telecoms veteran who previously led Danish IT and software company KMD, took Eutelsat’s reins as CEO at the start of 2022.

- “This ground-breaking combination will create a powerful global player with the financial strength and technical expertise to accelerate both OneWeb’s commercial deployment, and Eutelsat’s pivot to Connectivity,” Berneke said in a statement.

- Eutelsat reported 1.15 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in revenues for the year to the end of June, down 6.7% compared with the period the year before. Its broadcast segment, representing 61% of total revenues, fell 6.9% on a like-for-like basis when adjusted for foreign exchange rates.

- Revenues from fixed broadband and mobile connectivity services jumped up 36% and 13%, respectively.

- Eutelsat and OneWeb expect their combined company would generate 1.2 billion euros for the year to the end of June 2023.

- They forecast revenues to grow at a low double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next decade.

- Eutelsat operates 36 satellites in GEO. OneWeb currently has 428 satellites in LEO, about 66% of its planned feet, and has lined up missions with SpaceX and India’s space agency to resume launches later this year.

- OneWeb has not been able to add satellites to its constellation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February forced the company to halt the use of Soyuz vehicles.

- The British company expects to have deployed the remaining satellites by the end of 2023 to provide global connectivity services.

- Meanwhile, U.S.-based SpaceX has amassed more than 2,700 satellites in LEO for its Starlink broadband constellation as it expands global coverage, according to astronomer and spaceflight analyst Jonathan McDowell.

- The latest batch of 53 Starlink satellites launched July 24 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

• July 12, 2022: Plans to use the 12 GHz band for terrestrial 5G would severely disrupt non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) broadband across the United States, OneWeb said July 11 in analysis supporting an earlier study from SpaceX. 26)

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Figure 6: OneWeb has spent billions of dollars and deployed hundreds of satellites that use the 12 GHz band since securing a U.S. market access license in 2017 (image credit: OneWeb, artist's concept)

- In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, OneWeb urged the regulator to reject a request from satellite broadcaster Dish Network and spectrum holder RS Access to run two-way mobile services in the band.

- If approved, “it would leave significant areas of the United States unusable by the otherwise ubiquitous NGSO [fixed satellite service] user terminals,” wrote Kimberly Baum, OneWeb’s vice president of spectrum engineering and strategy.

- To connect user terminals, the SpaceX-owned Starlink and OneWeb megaconstellations use a satellite downlink band that extends from 10.7 GHz to 12.7 GHz.

- The analysis from OneWeb is the latest in a string of studies assessing how a high-power mobile network in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band would impact NGSO services.

- According to studies conducted by engineering firm RFK Engineering Solutions for RS Access, the 5G network would impact fewer than 1% of NGSO terminals, and mitigation techniques are readily available for those that are affected.

- However, SpaceX told the FCC June 21 that its analysis shows Starlink users would suffer harmful interference 77% of the time.

- SpaceX said the RFK analysis was full of inaccuracies, and also failed to address how NGSO operators share the band among themselves through coordination agreements.

- The coalition took particular issue with how SpaceX’s analysis extrapolated nationwide assumptions from tests conducted in Las Vegas.

- Baum said OneWeb’s analysis largely used the same assumptions as the RFK study, with “corrections only to the most egregiously flawed assumptions adopted by RS Access when applied to the OneWeb system, some of which overlap with corrections made by SpaceX in its study.”

- OneWeb spokesperson Katie Dowd said the study drew from a suburban area where both systems could be deployed, which she declined to disclose.

- “Additionally, we made a number of changes to take into account the OneWeb system and our business model, such as looking at NGSO user terminals deployed on the tops of several story commercial buildings that one might find in a suburban business park,” Dowd said.

- Like SpaceX, OneWeb’s main issue with the RFK analysis is its assumption that NGSO FSS terminals will be deployed with a heavy bias toward rural areas, while mobile base stations and devices will be heavily skewed towards urban areas.

- “There is no real world justification for this bias,” Baum wrote to the FCC.

- OneWeb’s study warns the operation of NGSO FSS user terminals in an area of expected mobile deployment “will almost always” result in harmful interference.

- This is “completely masked in the RS Access studies, since it looks at deployment spread over the entire United States as opposed to local conditions,” Baum said.

- The RS Access studies also only used Starlink to model interference, ignoring other NGSO operators she said “are architecturally, systematically, and entrepreneurially distinct from Starlink.”

- According to Baum, including OneWeb and others would substantially increase the number of customers that an expanded terrestrial service would adversely harm.

- While Starlink is currently providing broadband services across the United States, OneWeb expects to cover the country in 2023 after resuming satellite deployments later this year.

- “The RS Access studies were only able to show that a two-way mobile terrestrial service could coexist with incumbent NGSO FSS operations in the 12 GHz band by creating artificial separation between the geographic operating areas of satellite user terminals and mobile devices,” Baum added.

- “In reality, no such separation can or will exist. As the record illustrates, the viability of both NGSO FSS and mobile deployments hinge on the ability to be ubiquitously deployed.”

- Chip Pickering co-chair of the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, described OneWeb’s study as “another in-house, non-independent effort to discredit the scientifically proven feasibility of coexistence” in the 12 GHz band.

- “It is important to note that the FCC has already made it clear that any NGSO FSS company utilizing the 12 GHz band is doing so at its own risk and there should be no expectation of exclusivity within the band,” Pickering said.

- He said the coalition remains committed to working with the FCC to prove how NGSO and terrestrial 5G operators can co-exist in the band.

• July 1, 2022: OneWeb will launch some of its next-generation satellites on Relativity Space’s next-generation launch vehicle starting as soon as 2025, the companies announced June 30. 27)

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Figure 7: Relativity says the $650 million Series E funding round will allow it to accelerate development of Terran R, a vehicle designed to be fully reusable and carry payloads of more than 20,000 kg into orbit (image credit: Relativity Space)

- Relativity Space announced that OneWeb signed a launch services agreement for multiple launches of OneWeb Gen 2 satellites on Relativity’s Terran R reusable launch vehicle under development. The companies declined to disclose details about the agreement, including the value of the contract and the number of launches included.

- OneWeb has disclosed few details about the planned Gen 2 constellation, although it is expected to feature far more satellites than the current generation of 648 satellites the company is deploying. Those future satellites will likely offer additional communications services and could also carry navigation payloads.

- The lack of details extends to the size of the satellites themselves. The companies declined to disclose how many satellites would fit on a Terran R, a rocket with a projected payload capacity in the same class as SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

- OneWeb is the first customer that Relativity has announced for the Terran R but the fifth overall. Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, said in a written response to questions that the other four undisclosed customers are “are top satellite operators we are extremely excited about having on our manifest.”

- Ellis said that, among all customers, Relativity has orders for more than 20 Terran R launches, with a backlog the company valued at more than $1.2 billion. “The OneWeb agreement represents a large anchor customer with other significant customer agreements making up the total announced today,” he said. The other four customers each signed multi-launch agreements.

- Relativity announced the Terran R in June 2021 at the same time it disclosed a $650 million funding round. Terran R will be constructed using 3D-printing technologies the company has been working on since its inception. Both stages and its payload fairing will be reusable.

- The company is nearing the first launch of its smaller Terran 1 rocket. The vehicle is undergoing testing at Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ahead of a launch projected for later this summer. That mission, called “Good Luck, Have Fun” by the company, will not carry a payload.

- OneWeb, meanwhile, is preparing to resume launches of its first-generation constellation that were paused when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February led the company to halt use of Soyuz vehicles. A OneWeb executive said June 23 that it expects launches to resume in the fourth quarter using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 3.

- S Somanath, chairman of the Indian space agency ISRO, told reporters June 30 that two GSLV Mark 3 launches of OneWeb satellites are currently on the agency’s manifest, one for mid-September to October of this year and the other by January 2023.

• June 24, 2022: The in-space propulsion firm Busek Co. (Natick, MA) confirmed its supply of BHT-350 Hall effect thrusters for a range of missions supported by Airbus OneWeb Satellites (AOS). The Busek thrusters have been engineered and qualified to rigorous standards and are suitable for high-reliability, long-lifetime applications where thrusters are used for orbit raising, maintenance, and end-of-life de-orbit. 28)

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Figure 8: Busek is a US leader in the development and manufacture of high-performance in-space thrusters, sensors, and subsystems. From technology pathfinders to turnkey systems for satellite constellations, the firm's products provide thrust for challenging government and commercial missions (image credit: Busek)

- "We have long been proud to support Airbus OneWeb Satellites' mission set. The BHT-350 is well-matched to a multitude of small satellite applications, where the design benefits from a proven supply chain, and an industrialized production line with 100% hot-fire acceptance testing." said Vlad Hruby, President of Busek.

- Busek and Airbus OneWeb Satellites have been working closely together since AOS began building out their supply chain, as thrusters are a key part of any spacecraft. Today the entire team is executing at speed to meet customer demand. AOS operates a state-of-the-art satellite production facility on Merritt Island, Florida, and has built and delivered over 400 spacecraft which are operating on-orbit today.

• June 23, 2022: OneWeb, the broadband megaconstellation company whose launch plans were disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, expects to resume launches late this year, an executive said June 23. 29)

- Speaking at the Fourth Summit for Space Sustainability by the Secure World Foundation and the U.K. Space Agency, Maurizio Vanotti, vice president of space infrastructure development and partnerships at OneWeb, said new launch agreements with SpaceX and NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL) would allow the company to launch the remaining satellites of its first-generation system by the second quarter of 2023.

- “Our plan is to be back on the launch pad in quarter four, after the summer, and to complete deployment of the constellation by quarter two next year,” he said. It will take several months after that final launch for the satellites to move to their operational orbits, he added.

- “We’re going to be in service with global coverage, 24/7, by the end of next year,” he said.

- OneWeb once expected to have its constellation complete by the end of this year using Soyuz rockets. Its plans were upended, though, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions. OneWeb formally suspended launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome after rejecting conditions imposed by Roscosmos that included no military use of the satellites and divestment of the British government’s stake in the company.

- OneWeb announced less than three weeks later a launch agreement with SpaceX, but neither company disclosed details about the agreement. Notably, Vanotti said that the agreement, negotiated over less than three days, is for a “few Falcon 9 launches.” The companies had previously declined to say even how many launches were included in the agreement.

- OneWeb announced April 20 that it signed an agreement with NSIL, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency ISRO, for launches of OneWeb satellites. Vanotti confirmed that NSIL will launch those satellites on the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 3, the most powerful version of the GSLV but one that has not launched since 2019. He did not disclose how many launches that contract includes.

- “Considering the geopolitical situation, I would say that we’ve had an incredible turnaround with great support from both SpaceX and the Indian space agency,” he said.

Commitment to space sustainability

- Vanotti appeared on a panel with Julie Zoller, head of global regulatory affairs for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband constellation, where both emphasized their commitment to space sustainability.

- “Space sustainability is critical for Project Kuiper. It’s been a priority from day one,” Zoller said, citing as examples the company’s plans to use narrow tolerances for the orbits of the satellites and to actively deorbit them at the end of their lives.

- “We take our responsibility for the space commons extremely seriously,” Vanotti said, emphasizing the company’s commitment to reliability for its satellites to ensure they can deorbit at the end of their lives. The high orbit of the OneWeb satellites means they will not reenter within 25 years, as recommended by current orbital debris mitigation guidelines, with atmospheric drag alone.

- OneWeb has also worked to ensure its satellites can be removed from orbit by other spacecraft should their onboard propulsion fail. However, Zoller said there were no similar plans for Project Kuiper satellites, in part because those satellites are in lower orbits of between 590 and 630 kilometers. “We’re not using a third party to do active debris removal. We are the active debris remover,” she said, claiming the satellites can deorbit within 10 years even without propulsion.

- Both also said they were working on another element of space sustainability, reducing the brightness of their satellites to limit their interference to astronomy. For Amazon, that includes a test with two prototype satellites that the company plans to launch as soon as late this year on an ABL Space Systems RS1 rocket. Zoller said one of the two satellites will be equipped with a sunshade to block sunlight from reflecting off parts of the satellite, similar to the “VisorSat” concept SpaceX used for some of its Starlink satellites.

- “We can compare and contrast the difference between a shielded and an unshielded satellite in our very first launch,” she said. “We’re excited to get data on that and to find out what we can do next.”

- Vanotti said OneWeb keeps in contact with astronomical groups in the United States and United Kingdom, and in the last year started an “active observation campaign” to monitor the brightness of its satellites. Those observations help refine a model of the satellites. “We’re going to be using this tool in order to optimize the design of the future generation of our satellites,” he said, “to have a lower impact on dark skies.”

• May 27, 2022: The world’s first mission to remove several small telecommunications satellites from orbit once they reach the end of their operational service is about to start building and testing its prototype spacecraft. 30)

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Figure 9: Artists impression of a OneWeb satellite to be deorbited at the end of its active lifetime (image credit: OneWeb)

- British-based in-orbit servicing company Astroscale – working in an ESA Partnership Project with satellite operator OneWeb – will begin manufacturing the first commercial “servicer” prototype designed to capture multiple satellites in low Earth orbit under the ESA Sunrise Programme.

- Companies such as OneWeb are launching constellations comprised of hundreds of communications satellites to connect people in the hardest-to-reach locations through global satellite internet broadband services.

- OneWeb currently has 428 satellites orbiting approximately 1200 km above the Earth; its completed constellation will number almost 650 satellites.

- Removing these telecommunications satellites from their orbits once they are at the end of their lives is essential to ensure that today’s interconnected digital world is not compromised by collisions that damage active satellites in space – and to protect the low Earth orbit environment as a natural and shared resource.

- There are currently two options for removing end-of-life OneWeb satellites from their orbits at the end of their predicted five to six years of service.

- Each has been allocated enough fuel to be able to actively deorbit at the end of its useful lifetime. But, in case of failure, each has also been built with either a magnetic or a grappling fixture, so that a servicer spacecraft could collect and actively deorbit the satellite.

- The servicer spacecraft that Astroscale will build and test is called “ELSA-M” and is planned for launch in 2024. The servicer spacecraft will be the first “space sweeper” capable of removing multiple defunct satellites from their orbits in a single mission.

- Following this demonstration, Astroscale will offer a commercial service for clients that operate satellite constellations in low Earth orbit, providing the technology and capability to make in-orbit servicing part of routine satellite operations by 2030.

- ESA fosters innovation in the European space industry through its Partnership Projects, which seek to de-risk the investments of its industrial partners to meet market needs.

- UK Science Minister George Freeman said: “With thousands of satellites already in orbit and thousands more being launched every year, addressing the issue of space debris and finding new ways to remove defunct spacecraft and other types of space junk is of ever-increasing importance – to both reduce the cost of debris damage for satellite operators and ensure space is safe and sustainable.

- “That is why the UK government has made space sustainability a key theme of our National Space Strategy and it is fantastic to see leading roles for UK companies Astroscale and OneWeb in this ESA project, helping us continue to show UK technology leadership in this important area.”

- Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Space debris threatens the satellites we depend on every day for vital services, such as navigation, banking and communications.

- “That’s why the UK is taking action, by funding new commercial technologies to remove debris from space and working with international partners to lead efforts to promote sustainability. This latest phase of the Sunrise programme partnership between Astroscale and OneWeb will deliver an innovative spacecraft servicer to remove multiple defunct satellites, putting the UK at the forefront of efforts to clear up space.”

- Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technology Officer at OneWeb, said: “Responsible space is central to our mission at OneWeb and we are committed to sustainable practices in all the environments in which we operate. The development of the ELSA-M servicer prototype is another significant milestone towards a responsible approach to space, ensuring that our satellites can be de-orbited and that the low Earth orbit environment is protected as a natural and shared resource.”

- John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale, said: “Phase 3 of the Sunrise programme is a major step forward for ELSA-M towards an in-orbit demonstration and the start of a commercial debris removal service, capable of removing multiple defunct satellites in a single mission. The ELSA-M in-orbit demonstration, planned for late 2024, will build on lessons learned from the ELSA-d mission and demonstrate our innovative rendezvous, capture and de-orbit capabilities with a full-size constellation client.”

- Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “It is vital to ensure the responsible use of space to protect today’s interconnected world, because our digital economy and society rely on the ability to communicate. I am proud of ESA’s track record in fostering innovation in the space industry in Europe, bringing to fruition new ways of ensuring the sustainable use of space, and of the role that ESA’s Partnership Projects play as a trusted partner for investors, operators and industry.”

- The ESA Sunrise programme is supported by the UK Space Agency and involves not only OneWeb and Astroscale, but also British start-up companies SatixFy and Celestia UK, as well as the University of Surrey.

• April 20, 2022: OneWeb has signed a contract to use India’s largest launch vehicle to deploy at least some of its remaining LEO broadband satellites this year, according to a company executive. 31)

- The U.K.-based megaconstellation startup said in a brief April 20 news release it has reached an agreement with New Space India Limited, Indian space agency ISRO’s commercial arm, that covers launches from Satish Dhawan Space Centre for an undisclosed number of satellites.

- “The first launch with New Space India is anticipated in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launches will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation of 428 satellites, 66 per cent of the planned total fleet,” OneWeb said in a statement.

- Chris McLaughlin, chief of government, regulatory affairs and engagement at OneWeb, told SpaceNews the company plans to use India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). — He declined to disclose further details.

- The GSLV Mark 3 is India’s largest rocket and can lift about 9,000 kg to LEO, comparable with the Russian Soyuz vehicles that European launch provider Arianespace had been using to deploy OneWeb’s constellation — before they were caught up in sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

- India last launched a GSLV Mark 3 in 2019 as part of the country’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar exploration mission.

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Figure 10: A GSLV Mark 3 launches ISRO's GSAT-19 communications satellite June 5, 2017 (image credit: ISRO)

• March 22, 2022: Australian communications company Telstra announced plans March 22 to build and maintain three dedicated teleports to provide satellite gateway services in the Southern Hemisphere for OneWeb’s broadband constellation. 32)

- The teleports, spread across Australia, are being built as part of a 10-year agreement between Telstra and OneWeb announced at the Satellite 2022 conference.

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Figure 11: Telstra is building dedicated teleports across Australia to provide satellite gateway services for OneWeb in the Southern Hemisphere (image credit: Telstra)

- Satellite constellation operators continue to forge ties with telecommunications companies that own and operate terrestrial and subsea assets, including fiber networks, IP backbones and data centers.

- The first OneWeb teleport, scheduled to begin operations in July, is located in Darwin Tivendale. Telstra plans to complete work on two additional sites in Charlton Toowoomba and Wangara, Perth, Western Australia later this year. Each facility is designed to provide turnkey ground station support for OneWeb’s growing fleet of low-earth orbit satellites.

- “OneWeb had exacting requirements from the outset, and we worked in close partnership with them from site selection through construction,” Vish Vishwanathan, Telstra Americas vice president for wholesale and satellite, said in a written statement. “Teleports are complex sites involving access to secure and resilient infrastructure and on-the-ground expertise, which Telstra has provided to OneWeb throughout this project.”

- OneWeb has 428 satellites in orbit, about two-thirds of its constellation. For now, OneWeb is providing coverage above the 50th parallel North, reaching areas in Alaska, Canada and the Arctic that often lack broadband.

- “Low Earth Orbit satellite technology is transforming the global connectivity landscape, not only by creating new business opportunities, but also giving more businesses, communities and governments the internet access they need for progress,” Michele Franci, OneWeb chief of delivery and operations, said in a statement. “More connectivity options benefit everyone and our approach in establishing strategic partnerships with experienced providers like Telstra is core to how we deliver the OneWeb mission.”

- Earlier this month OneWeb and Telstra announced a memorandum of understanding to look at ways to improve digital connectivity for Telstra customers in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

- “We see lots of opportunities for our consumer, small business and enterprise customers using LEO satellite connectivity – from backhaul to back-up for resiliency, from internet of things to supporting emergency services, from home broadband to supporting agritech,” Andrew Penn, Telstra CEO said in a statement.

March 21, 2022: OneWeb said March 21 that it reached a deal with SpaceX that will allow OneWeb to resume launching its LEO broadband constellation this year. 33)

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Figure 12: A Soyuz rocket lifts off Feb. 10 from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, carrying 34 satellites. A planned March 4 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome was suspended following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (image credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique vidéo du CSG - S MARTIN)

- “The first launch with SpaceX is anticipated in 2022 and will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation that currently stands at 428 satellites, or 66 percent of the fleet,” OneWeb said in a news release.

- OneWeb entered 2022 expecting to reach global coverage by August. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put the kibosh on the six Soyuz launches the London-based LEO broadband constellation operator was counting on to complete its 648-satellite constellation this year.

- “With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a written statement.

- OneWeb did not disclose how soon its SpaceX launch would happen, how many satellites it would deploy, which SpaceX launch vehicle would be used, or whether the deal includes more than one launch.

- “We cannot comment on details of the agreement at this time,” OneWeb spokeswoman Katie Dowd said in response to questions.

• March 2, 2022: OneWeb on March 2 ordered staff to leave Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan amid an impasse over the planned March 4 launch of its latest batch of satellites on a Soyuz rocket, an executive for the U.K.-based company said. 34)

- Chris McLaughlin, OneWeb’s chief of government, regulatory affairs and engagement, told SpaceNews it decided to leave the Russian-controlled launch site after Roscosmos issued an ultimatum on the mission.

- With geopolitical tensions rising amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said the planned March 4 launch could only go ahead if OneWeb guarantees the satellites would not be used for military purposes, and the British government divests its stake in the company.

- “There’s no negotiation on OneWeb: the UK Government is not selling its share,” U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in response.

- Roscosmos issued its ultimatum via Twitter March 2 shortly after the Soyuz rocket carrying 36 satellites was rolled out to the pad.

- In a further sign of fraying relations, Rogozin posted a video on Twitter purportedly showing OneWeb’s livery being removed from the Soyuz rocket.

- “The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful,” Rogozin tweeted in Russian, according to a translation.

- France-based Arianespace, which has a contract with OneWeb to launch the constellation and has so far deployed 428 of its 648-strong network on Soyuz rockets over 13 missions since February 2019, declined to comment.

- Prior to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, OneWeb expected to deploy the remaining satellites in its planned constellation by the end of August to provide global services.

Another potential wrinkle

- Widening sanctions and worsening relations between Russia and the West also pose manufacturing questions for OneWeb.

- Although OneWeb builds its satellites in Florida under a joint venture with Airbus, it uses spacecraft thrusters imported from Fakel, a Russian propulsion company.

- Airbus highlighted Airbus OneWeb Satellites’ cooperation with Fakel for OneWeb’s constellation in a news release ahead of a Moscow airshow last summer.

- The companies have not disclosed how many satellites still need to be built to complete OneWeb’s constellation, or whether enough thrusters have been stockpiled.

- Airbus OneWeb Satellites spokeswoman Molly Townsend and Airbus U.S. Space & Defense spokeswoman Morgan Keese directed questions about the thrusters to OneWeb, which declined to comment.

- It is also unclear whether the OneWeb-derived satellite platforms that San Francisco-based condosat operator Loft Orbital ordered from Airbus in January are designed to use Fakel thrusters. Ten of the more than 15 buses Loft Orbital ordered are intended for customer EarthDaily Analytics of Canada.

- Loft Orbital co-founder and CEO Pierre-Damien Vaujour did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

• February 3, 2022: After the successful launch of NASA’s Webb Space Telescope on December 25 with Ariane 5, Arianespace is back to the Guiana Space Center (CSG) with Soyuz for a February 10 lift-off. 35)

- The first Arianespace mission of the year will orbit 34 additional OneWeb satellites.

- With this mission, Arianespace will exceed 100 satellites launched on Soyuz from the CSG, while OneWeb’s fleet will be brought to 428 satellites on Low Earth Orbit.

- Scheduled for February 10 at 03:09 p.m. local time (06:09 p.m. UTC), Arianespace’s Soyuz Flight VS27 will mark the European launch service provider’s first flight of the year. Performed from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) at Sinnamary, French Guiana, Flight VS27 will put 34 of OneWeb’s satellites into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 450 km. The total duration of the mission will be 3 hours and 33 minutes and will include nine satellite separations, after which the satellites will subsequently raise themselves to their operational orbit.

- This thirteenth launch for OneWeb will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services to a wide range of customer sectors including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, as well as governments, emergency response services and more. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every place where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.

- Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will work with user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally – by air, sea and land.

- The next OneWeb missions through 2022 will enable the start of OneWeb’s global services this year.

- OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, is the constellation’s prime contractor. The satellites were built thanks to its leading-edge satellite manufacturing process that can build up to two satellites a day on a series production line dedicated to the assembly, integration, and testing of the satellites.

- Arianespace offers proven launch solutions, fully adapted to the requirements of constellations and validated by the market. The 34 OneWeb satellites on Flight VS27 will be the 561st to 594th constellation satellites launched by Arianespace and will put at over 100 the number of satellites launched on Soyuz from the CSG.

• January 20, 2022: OneWeb has signed a deal to distribute broadband in India through a local partner as it hopes to get regulatory permission for its low Earth orbit services this year. 36)

- The megaconstellation operator said Jan. 20 it has struck a six-year distribution partnership with Hughes Communications India Private Ltd (HCIPL), a recently formed joint venture between Indian telco Bharti Airtel and U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems.

- Bharti Airtel is owned by Bharti Global, which is OneWeb’s largest shareholder, and Hughes is a minority investor in OneWeb that is also developing gateways for the operator in India and elsewhere.

- HCIPL is India’s biggest satellite service operator with more than 200,000 VSATs in the country, the joint venture owners said Jan. 4 when they announced the company’s formation.

- Some 135,000 of those VSATs come from Hughes which owns about a third of HCIPL and the rest come from Airtel, Hughes Network Systems president Pradman Kaul told SpaceNews in an interview.

- The VSATs currently connect to satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO), but Kaul said HCIPL plans to introduce multi-orbit capabilities once OneWeb gains regulatory clearances to operate in the country.

- SpaceX’s LEO broadband operator Starlink also requires regulatory permission to deploy services in India.

- Sanjay Bhargava, Starlink’s former lead executive in India, said late last year that the company hoped to have applied for a commercial license on or before Jan. 31, 2022. Bhargava recently announced he had resigned from the company, shortly after India’s government ordered SpaceX to stop preselling Starlink until it gives regulatory approval.

- For OneWeb, Kaul said regulatory approval in India “should happen hopefully in the next three to six months.”

- He pointed to broad transformation across India’s regulatory landscape as rules are being relaxed to encourage investments in the space industry.

- Bharti only owns about a third of U.K.-based OneWeb, and its other shareholders are based outside of India.

- Kaul said that means OneWeb is set to become one of the first foreign satellite operators permitted to serve India on a long-term basis.

- Foreign operators are sometimes allowed to lease capacity temporarily to India’s Department of Space, when the country cannot meet demand with domestically operated satellites.

- However, Pradman said “the conditions are very onerous and don’t encourage investment.”

- He said the shifting regulatory landscape is encouraging Hughes Network Systems to explore a high-throughput GEO satellite for India, similar to the company’s Jupiter 3 for North America that an undisclosed launch provider is slated to loft in the second half of 2022.

- “We definitely will start looking at that, but it’s not the most important thing right now,” Pradman said.

- “Right now we want to integrate the LEO OneWeb capability with our existing GEO network, and make them all play together and start offering services.”

- OneWeb has so far deployed more than 60% of the 648 satellites in its planned constellation, with the remaining satellites slated to launch this year for global connectivity services.

- The company has announced a raft of distribution partners worldwide to expand its services.

- Most recently, Australian telecoms carrier Field Solutions said Jan. 19 it will offer OneWeb’s services to rural, regional, and remote Australia under a distribution partnership.

• November 2, 2021: BT (British Telecom) Group PLC of London and OneWeb have agreed terms for a new Distribution Partner Agreement, with OneWeb to provide Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communication services across BT Group. This builds on an initial Memorandum of Understanding signed in July and means BT is testing how LEO satellite technology integrates with its existing terrestrial capabilities to meet the communications needs of customers. On successful completion, BT will commence the first live trials with customers from early next year. The partnership will span a growing range of connectivity solutions around the world as well as specific opportunities for the UK market. 37)

- Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: "Space is an emerging and enormous digital opportunity, and this is an important step towards harnessing its potential for BT's customers across the globe. We will put OneWeb's technology through its paces in our UK labs with the goal of delivering live trials in early 2022. Delivered securely and at scale, satellite solutions will be an important part of our plans to expand connectivity throughout the UK and globally, and to further diversify the range of services we can offer our customers."

- OneWeb's Chief Executive Officer Neil Masterson said: "BT has taken the lead in the recognition of LEO satellite's advantage. We are delighted as this agreement with BT Group represents an important strategic partnership for OneWeb as we continue to make progress towards our operational launch. We are excited to be playing such a key role in improving the resilience of the overall telecom infrastructure in the UK. OneWeb's connectivity platform will help bridge the last digital divides across the country and enhance the nation's digital infrastructure."

- OneWeb is expected to deliver global coverage by June 2022 through a constellation of 648 LEO satellites and is poised to deliver services from the North Pole to the 50th parallel, covering the entire United Kingdom, later this year. The new partnership supports BT's wider network ambition, set out in July this year, to deliver digital solutions across the entire UK by 2028, through a combination of an expanded network and 'on demand,' requestable solutions anywhere beyond. In building a converged, software-defined network, BT will leverage and integrate both terrestrial and non-terrestrial technologies to deliver on the goal of seamless, ubiquitous connectivity.

- This agreement marks a clear path towards the first LEO solutions being available for customers within a year. As the next step, BT will test capabilities in its Bristol lab to demonstrate how they integrate with existing services. Current capacity levels within OneWeb satellites mean initial trials will focus on its role as a supplementary, low latency backhaul solution to sites where additional capacity or a back-up solution is required, and to deliver improved resilience for business customers.

- On successful completion, BT will begin early adopter trials for UK and international customers, expected early next year. As OneWeb grows their capacity, the list of future use cases could also widen, opening up the opportunity to explore the use of satellite for IoT backhaul and Fixed Wireless Access in rural areas.

- The work with OneWeb shows the capabilities being developed by UK businesses in the pioneering area of space technology and follows the UK Government's recently published National Space Strategy, which recognizes the enormous strategic opportunities on offer. BT, which boasts a heritage of nearly 60 years in space and satellite communication innovation, continues to explore a diverse range of partners across all its services, including space, to ensure the latest and best connectivity solutions are available for customers.

- About BT: BT Group is the UK's leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Openreach, which provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK.

• October 27, 2021: Satellite broadband startup OneWeb and a company backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund have signed a $200 million joint venture, with exclusive rights to distribute the network’s capacity in targeted Middle East regions. 38)

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Figure 13: OneWeb is deploying 648 satellites to 1,200 km altitude, aiming to start providing worldwide connectivity services in 2022 (image credit: OneWeb)

- OneWeb said Oct. 26 it is partnering with NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Company, a business entity Saudi Arabia created as part of an effort to develop a planned modern city and tourist destination in the northwest of the country.

- The OneWeb partnership is part of NEOM’s goal to secure access to tens of terabytes of scalable capacity by 2030, helping it attract urban and rural businesses and communities to the region. In addition to OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, the strategy includes the construction of subsea and terrestrial communications cables, 5G cellular towers and fiber networks.

- NEOM is spending $170 million to buy satellite capacity from OneWeb under a seven-year contract.

- The holding company is also investing $30 million in a joint venture with OneWeb that will resell the capacity in Saudi Arabia, the broader Middle East and neighboring East African countries.

- With more than half its 648-strong satellite constellation deployed to date, OneWeb expects to launch commercial services in the upper part of the Northern Hemisphere this year, with global services to follow in 2022.

- However, OneWeb expects its contract with NEOM to exclusively distribute its services in target regions to commence in 2023.

- “This agreement includes a ground station in NEOM so the timeline reflects the need to buil[d] that but we will commence global services in 2022,” a OneWeb official said via email.

- At 348 satellites, OneWeb said it is the second-largest LEO operator and the only one licensed in Saudi Arabia.

- SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation is currently the largest in LEO with more than 1,600 in-orbit so far.

- OneWeb said its joint venture with NEOM builds on an agreement it signed with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) back in 2017, when they agreed to collaborate on solutions to extend connectivity to more homes across the country.

- NEOM will help test and develop satellite-based cybersecurity solutions under the joint venture announced Oct. 26, in addition to positioning and navigation capabilities that OneWeb is exploring for the U.K. government.

- The British government is an investor in OneWeb, and the venture said the partnership with NEON also strengthens ties between Saudi Arabia and the U.K.

- “This joint venture brings together two emerging space and digital technology champions to deliver connectivity for the Middle East,” U.K. Investment Minister Gerry Grimstone said in a statement.

- “It demonstrates that the UK Government’s investment in OneWeb continues to be a catalyst for international collaboration, while securing jobs at home and driving investment into the UK space sector.”

• October 11, 2021: Bharti-backed OneWeb, the low Earth orbit satellite communications company, today announced an arrangement through Letter of Intent with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to use the Indian-built PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the heavier GSLV-MkIII (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) as potential platforms to launch OneWeb’s satellites in India from 2022. 39)

- The non-binding Letter of Intent was unveiled at the launch of Indian Space Association (ISpA) in the presence of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi. OneWeb is amongst the founding members of ISpA, which strives to be the collective voice of space and satellite companies in India and will work with stakeholders across for the development of India’s space ecosystem.

- OneWeb is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit. Services will begin this year to the Arctic region including Alaska, Canada, and the U.K.

- By late 2022, OneWeb will offer its high-speed, low latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world. Service testing on the satellites already in orbit is underway. The results are positive, including seamless satellite and beam handovers, high speeds and low latency.

- OneWeb and NSIL will expeditiously convert the Letter of Intent into a binding agreement after obtaining all necessary approvals from their respective Boards.

- Comments OneWeb Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal: “ISRO has built formidable launch capabilities and India is part of the select group of countries to have history of successful launches. OneWeb will be delighted to use ISRO’s proven platforms to fulfil its vision of taking broadband connectivity across the earth, oceans and sky. We believe this initiative will further the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of making India a key hub in the global space ecosystem and also boost the India-U.K. strategic partnership. We look forward to a deeper engagement with NSIL/ISRO over the coming years.”

- Says Dr. K. Sivan, Chairman of ISRO: “We are delighted to have OneWeb looking into how our launch capabilities can help meet their global ambition to connect people everywhere. We are making tremendous progress and India is advancing its space capabilities and we look forward to working together.”

- OneWeb will undertake its 11th launch on the 14th of October with a further 36 satellites on board. In under a year, the company has passed the halfway stage of its first generation constellation with 322 satellites now in space.

• October 6, 2021: Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) has exercised a call option on a portion of the latest OneWeb funding round subscribed by Bharti, for a consideration of $165 million, taking its shareholding from 17.6% to 22.9%. 40)

- The transaction was undertaken on identical financial terms to Eutelsat’s initial investment of $550 million announced in April and completed on 8 September. The completion of this latest transaction is expected around year-end 2021 subject to regulatory authorizations.

- Since Eutelsat’s initial investment, OneWeb has gained significant traction, both operationally, with a 100% launch success rate leading to nearly half of the constellation now in orbit, and commercially, with numerous distribution partnerships secured ahead of its partial entry into service, which remains on track for end-2021.

- In the meantime, as already announced by the company, OneWeb’s capital structure has been further strengthened with an additional $500 million commitment by Bharti completing the funding of its first-generation constellation and a $300 million capital injection from South Korea’s Hanwha.

- Following the exercise of the call option and the completion of Hanwha’s investment, Eutelsat’s 22.9% holding will make it the second largest shareholder behind Bharti with 30.0%, thereby strengthening its position as a key shareholder and partner of OneWeb.

- Eutelsat’s investment comes after it delivered a strong FY 2021 performance in terms of cash flow generation and leverage reduction, and is compliant with Eutelsat’s financial framework. At 30 June 2021, Eutelsat’s liquidity amounted to €1.9bn in cash and undrawn credit lines.

- Commenting on the transaction, Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat’s Chief Executive Officer stated: “We are hugely excited to grasp this opportunity to deepen our commitment to OneWeb. The significant progress it has made in the run-up to its now imminent entry into service, together with the vote of confidence demonstrated by the commitment of both its investors and future customers, makes us even more convinced of OneWeb’s right-to-win in the low earth orbit (LEO) constellation segment.”

• September 16, 2021: Under a new agreement with U.S. defense contractor Peraton, OneWeb’s satellite communications services will be more widely available to military users in hard-to-reach areas, including ships at sea. 41)

- Low Earth orbit satellite communications “is a game-changing capability for maritime, aviation, defense and other customers operating in remote environments outside of standard network coverage areas,” said Nate White, Peraton’s vice president and general manager of communications.

- Peraton is a systems integrator that provides managed satcom services to the government. The Pentagon frequently turns to integrators to stitch together networks from multiple vendors. Leonardo DRS Global Enterprise Solutions provides similar services.

- White said the U.S. military typically wants network services that combine satellites in geosynchronous, medium and low orbits. He noted that until OneWeb came online, Iridium was the only LEO-based satellite service available to the military and there is a huge demand for low-latency communications.

- “Military customers want almost the ease of a cell phone, with one interface to multiple networks so we’re working to be able to do that so they’re not having to go buy from individual service providers,” he said.

- Most of the military demand for satcom comes from the U.S. Army that has forces deployed in areas where there is limited telecom infrastructure. The Navy increasingly is looking for additional satcom capacity for ships at sea, White said. “OneWeb brings a lot more bandwidth to bear. With LEO systems, you don’t have these 300 millisecond round trip delays that you see in GEO satellites, so you’re going to have a conversation or get data moved at speeds closer to what a wired network does.”

- OneWeb’s planned constellation of 648 satellites is almost half way complete. Since the company emerged from bankruptcy in November and continued to build its network, it has signed global distribution partnerships and strategic agreements with AT&T, Hughes Network Systems, Alaska Communications, BT, Northwestel, and now Peraton.

- The company said it will start service this year at the 50th parallel and above, and reach global coverage in 2022.

- White said he expects the Navy and the Coast Guard to add LEO services to their satcom contracts. The maritime forces primarily rely on Inmarsat when they’re at sea and they need more bandwidth.

- With the new LEO systems, “you’re going to be able to connect a ship with as much as a gigabit per second of connectivity while at sea,” he said. “Now you start talking about maybe giving sailors live streaming over Netflix. There are very few providers that cover the big open ocean.”

- One of the challenges of bringing LEO satcom into the military are the user terminals. Current terminals are not interoperable with multiple satcom providers, creating a logistics problem for the military.

- “If you’re going into Africa or the Middle East, there’s only so much space on a C-17 or C-5 transport aircraft,” he said. “They can’t be bringing thousands of different terminals. We don’t want that. It creates a lot of challenges from a logistic support standpoint.”

- OneWeb’s user terminals, made by Intellian Technologies and Collins Aerospace, are about the size of a briefcase. But the military wants terminals that are smaller and also can talk to GEO satellites and other networks. “Kymeta is moving down that path and I think they’re shaking up the market a little bit,” White said.

- “Customers want one interface device that will access many different networks,” he said. “Everybody’s looking for bandwidth portability. But I think it’s going to be another five years or so before we start to see a lot more of that.”

• September 8, 2021: AT&T has agreed to use OneWeb’s low Earth orbit satellites to extend high-speed broadband services to areas outside its fiber footprint in the United States. 42)

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Figure 14: A screenshot of OneWeb executive chair Sunil Bharti Mittal's Satellite 2021 keynote Sept. 8, where he announced the AT&T partnership (image credit: SpaceNews)

- Their partnership will focus on bolstering connectivity solutions for business and government customers, while also leveraging satellites to connect hard-to-reach cell towers across the country.

- AT&T provides high-speed connectivity to more than 2.5 million business in the U.S., according to the company, and more than nine million business customer sites are within 1,000 feet of its fiber network.

- However, the telco highlighted the many remote areas where it is too expensive or geographically challenging to expand high-speed fiber networks.

- OneWeb executive chair Sunil Bharti Mittal, who announced the agreement in his Satellite 2021 keynote Sept. 8, said the “U.S. market now has a huge distributor in the form of AT&T.”

- Asked about the services AT&T will provide through the OneWeb partnership, he first highlighted the potential to provide faster and more reliable cellular backhaul.

- Higher quality cellular backhaul “will allow [AT&T] to put up base stations where none exist today,” Mittal said.

- He also underlined the potential to improve AT&T’s enterprise services, as well as “the government delivery of various kinds of broadband services,” pointing to the billions in subsidies the Federal Communications Commission provides through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund as justifying OneWeb’s vision and business plan.

- “That means there are still very large parts of the U.S. which remain unconnected or poorly connected,” he noted.

Looking for more partners

- Mittal said OneWeb is holding “dozens of conversations in very advanced stages” with other telecom partners.

- The company had earlier announced a distributor partnership with British telco BT June 27.

- Mittal is founder and chair of Indian conglomerate Bharti, a OneWeb investor that also owns a sizable India-based telecoms company called Airtel.

- He told the conference that Airtel will partner with OneWeb to cover India, Southeast Asia and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

- With nearly half of its 648-strong constellation deployed so far, he said OneWeb expects to launch partial services in the Northern Hemisphere in the next 60-90 days.

- Mittal said Alaska “will probably go first with our services,” adding that OneWeb has also partnered with local telco Alaska Communications.

- OneWeb plans to launch full commercial services in 2022, and Mittal said it expects to have signed up a telecom operator in every country as it works on gaining worldwide market access.

- He highlighted stiff regulatory conditions in 30 countries in particular, of which OneWeb has been able to penetrate 12-13 of them.

- “They are very large markets, some of them,” he continued.

- “We need the permission to put up our .... ground stations, we need the permission to use the spectrum in their countries. We need the permission to go and access the market and provide the services.”

- Bharti is U.K-headquartered OneWeb’s largest investor in an international mix of shareholders that includes the British government, Japanese internet giant Softbank, French satellite operator Eutelsat, U.S.-based antenna specialist Hughes Network Systems and — more recently — South Korea’s Hanwha.

- Eutelsat said Sept. 8 that it closed a $550 million equity investment in OneWeb that it announced in April.

- If Bharti and Hanwha’s investments also close as expected following regulatory approvals, Eutelsat would own 17.6% of OneWeb.

- OneWeb also announced Sept 8 the appointment of Air Vice-Marshal Chris Moore as vice president of international government and trade engagement to its government and regulatory affairs team.

- Moore spent three decades at the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, and was the MOD’s director of operations for defence’s core IT services between 2017 and 2021.

- “His sectoral knowledge, spectrum engineering, and real-time application of satellite connectivity, alongside a deep cyber-security background, are of great benefit as we roll-out our global services,” stated OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson.

• August 25, 2021: South Korean antenna maker Intellian Technologies, a major supplier to British satellite broadband startup OneWeb, is planning to build its second manufacturing plant by May 2022 to meet increasing demand for user terminals for low Earth orbit broadband. 43)

- Intellian unveiled the plan Aug. 23, saying it will spend 30 billion won ($25.6 million) on building the new plant near the firm’s headquarters in the Jinwi Industrial Complex, Pyonegtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Its construction will begin in October, according to the company.

- “To build the new plant is part of efforts to ensure a stable supply to OneWeb,” Intellian said in a statement. “We see an increasing demand for user terminals for low Earth orbit broadband as competition among satellite-based communications providers intensifies and their business grows faster than expected.”

- The second plant, whose size is nearly 6,000 m2, will house production lines for user terminals for LEO broadband and gateway antennas, according to the company. The existing first plant is in the company’s headquarters.

- When the second plant becomes operational, an Intellian official told SpaceNews, the combined production capacity of the two plants will be “about 2.5 times higher than present.” The official declined to give details.

- Intellian is a major antenna supplier to OneWeb. The two have signed three contracts since 2019 — in August 2021, March 2021, and December 2019 — with a combined value of nearly 113.4 billion won ($97 million).

- In July, Intellian opened its European headquarters and logistics center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, underpinning its commitment to the European market. The company also contributed to developing a briefcase-sized electronically steered user terminal called OW1, which OneWeb unveiled Aug. 24 during the 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Figure 15: Intellian Technologies’ headquarters in Pyonegtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Korea (image credit: Intellian Technologies)

• August 24, 2021: OneWeb has unveiled a briefcase-sized electronically steered user terminal called OW1, which it says is the smallest yet that is capable of connecting to its LEO (Low Earth Orbit) constellation. 44)

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Figure 16: OneWeb and Intellian plan to host an unboxing event for OW1 later this year (image credit: OneWeb)

- The startup plans to integrate the flat-panel antenna with a OneWeb satellite modem in a sealed outdoor unit for distribution later this year.

- OW1 was developed in partnership with South Korean antenna maker Intellian Technologies and Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies.

- OneWeb has said it has plans in place to develop a range of antennas, comprising flat panels and dual parabolic dishes, to support a LEO broadband constellation of nearly 650 satellites.

- OW1’s unveiling comes after Intellian announced a US$73 million contract with OneWeb March 8 to develop and supply compact user terminals.

- The flat-panel antenna is 50 x 43 x 10 cm, according to OneWeb, weighing around 10 kg.

- The outdoor antenna is designed to connect to an indoor unit through a single combined power and data cable, enabling connectivity to devices including laptops and routers.

- “The OW1 is our first flat-panel antenna, following years of investment in R&D, expanding our comprehensive OneWeb portfolio,” said Intellian CEO Eric Sung.

- Intellian has teamed up with Hughes Network Systems to demonstrate managed satcom services in strategic Arctic locations for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

- OneWeb has also partnered with Israel antenna maker SatixFy to build terminals for aircraft to enable in-flight connectivity services.

- On Aug. 12, OneWeb said it had received a $300 million strategic investment from Hanwha, the South Korean conglomerate that bought British antenna startup Phasor Solutions last year.

- It remains unclear how OneWeb could integrate Hanwha’s antennas into its infrastructure.

- “We will be working with a number of user terminal providers and look forward to learning more about Hanwha’s products,” a OneWeb spokesperson said.

- The investment from Hanwha gives OneWeb $300 million on top of the $2.4 billion it had already secured, which it said completed the constellation’s funding.

- OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson told SpaceNews on the sidelines of Space Symposium in Colorado that the company has not yet decided how to deploy the extra cash.

- “First of all, it’s always good to have dry powder in any business, and particularly these sorts of businesses,” Masterson said.

- He said the funds could be used to accelerate market penetration, for acquisitions or deploy a second-generation constellation faster.

- Arianespace successfully launched an extra 34 satellites for OneWeb’s first-generation network Aug. 21.

- At 288 satellites so far, OneWeb has deployed 44% of its constellation, ahead of planned services before the end of this year to Canada, the U.K. and Northern Europe.

- The operator plans to provide global services for enterprise and government customers in 2022.

• August 12, 2021: Hanwha, the South Korean Fortune 500, global technology and manufacturing company has announced a USD $300m equity investment by Hanwha Systems (“Hanwha”) in OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company. Hanwha brings further defence capabilities and the latest antenna technologies to OneWeb, alongside relationships to new government customers and expanded geographical reach. 45)

- This investment brings OneWeb’s total equity investment since November 2020 to USD $2.7bn with no debt issuance. The investment is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022, subject to regulatory approvals.

- OneWeb’s first generation fleet of 648 satellites that will deliver global coverage in 2022 is fully funded. To date, the company has launched 254 satellites into orbit, with another launch planned this August from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Thanks to the success of recent launches, OneWeb’s network will be ready to offer connectivity services from 50th parallel and above by the end of 2021.

- Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said: “We welcome Hanwha to OneWeb. These are exciting and fast paced times in the space sector. With Hanwha alongside, we will be able to access the highest quality of technological thinking and development. They are a powerful partner in our global mission to connect the world.”

- Youn Chul KIM President, Chief Executive Officer and Director at Hanwha Systems said: "We are pleased to join hands with OneWeb, which has strength in the LEO communication area, the core of space business. To OneWeb ‘s vision of connecting all the people across the globe, Hanwha System’s satellite and antenna technology will bring more advantages."

- UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Today’s $300m investment in OneWeb by Hanwha is the latest in a series of votes of confidence in the company from the market. It’s clear that leading global investors see a promising future for this ground-breaking company and a robust commercial case for investment.

- “The Government’s equity stake in OneWeb not only allows the UK to capitalise on our first-mover advantage to deploy low Earth orbit technology but will put our country at the forefront of the small satellite market, which is set to rapidly expand over the years ahead.”

- Neil Masterson, Chief Executive at OneWeb, said: “Hanwha brings advanced defence and antenna technology development to the OneWeb line-up. We are all delighted that they have chosen to join us on this journey of innovation, shaping a global service to connect the most remote locations and to provide a critical digital pathway from space to our interconnected world.”

- On completion, OneWeb will appoint a Board Director to represent Hanwha’s share in the Company.

• August 12, 2021: The next Arianespace mission is planned from Baikonur Cosmodrome with Soyuz on August 20 (local time), to deliver 34 satellites into orbit bringing the total OneWeb’s fleet to 288 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. 46)

- This 59th Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate will be the first launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2021 and represents the ninth launch for OneWeb overall.

- Flight ST34, the first commercial mission performed by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2021, after four successful launches from Vostochny earlier this year, will put 34 of OneWeb’s satellites into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers. The mission will have a total duration of three hours and 45 minutes and will include a first separation of two satellites followed by eight separations of four satellites, which will raise themselves to their operational orbit. This ninth launch to the benefit of OneWeb will raise to 288 the number of satellites deployed for the global telecommunications operator.

- This launch represents a straight continuation of the ambition carried and achieved by the previous one. On July 1st, ST33 placed into orbit enough satellites to enable connectivity services to the 50th parallel and above by years end which includes Canada, U.K., Northern Europe, Alaska and Arctic regions. OneWeb’s launch campaign will continue thereafter as it works toward delivering global service in 2022.

- OneWeb’s constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services to a wide range of customer sectors including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, as well as governments, emergency response services and more. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every place where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.

- Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally – by air, sea and land.

- OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, is the constellation’s prime contractor. The satellites were built thanks to its leading-edge satellite manufacturing process that can build up to two satellites a day on a series production line dedicated to the assembly, integration, and testing of the satellites.

• July 26, 2021: British telecoms regulator Ofcom (Office of Communications) is proposing rule changes that would affect Starlink, OneWeb and other satellite constellations operating in non-geostationary orbits (NGSO). 47)

- It is increasingly difficult for companies to agree on how to operate their NGSO networks without causing harmful radio interference to each other, Ofcom warned in a July 26 consultation document it issues before creating new rules.

- NGSO operators are required to coordinate their networks under International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations; however, Ofcom pointed to how “in many cases” these arrangements have not yet concluded.

- “This creates a risk that interference between NGSO networks could cause localized degradation to the quality and reliability of these services,” it stated.

- SpaceX’s Starlink constellation is currently estimated to exceed 1,600 satellites in NGSO, U.K.-based OneWeb has 254 and Canada’s Kepler Communications is operating around 15. All aim to expand their network significantly.

- Canada-based Telesat, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and other NGSO ventures are racing to join them with large constellations of their own in low Earth orbit.

- Ofcom proposes new checks on interference risks when it considers NGSO license applications and more powerful tools to deal with them if they emerge.

- It said it is also seeking greater visibility into license applications in a public comment period that ends Sept. 20.

- Following this consultation period, Ofcom plans to confirm and implement licensing changes in a public statement that will be published before the end of 2021.

- “We also want to mitigate the risk of earlier systems hindering the deployment of those coming later because of the interference they could cause, and therefore potentially restricting competition,” Ofcom added in the document.

- “To do this we are proposing new checks on competition when we consider NGSO licence applications.”

- The changes affect Ofcom-issued “Satellite (Earth Station Network)” licenses that any operator delivering services in the U.K. must have if they want to use NGSO user terminals.

- Rules around Ofcom’s “Satellite (Non-Geostationary Earth Station)” licenses, which authorize gateways that connect to the in-orbit networks, are also in line for an update.

- Ofcom said a “small number” of existing licenses would have to be adjusted if it issues new rules.

- Starlink, OneWeb and Kepler have existing “Satellite (Earth Station Network)” licenses under Ofcom for operating in the U.K.

- Notably, Ofcom said it is not processing any new license applications during the consultation process.

- To ensure all relevant satellite equipment becomes subject to the updated rules, it is also removing an existing license exemption for user terminals that are being developed to operate in Ka-band.

- As part of the changes, Ofcom expects to establish a period for comments on license applications when it issues new NGSO licenses, enabling stakeholders to provide information on how they could cause interference or impact competition.

- Viasat, which operates broadband satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO), and TV broadcaster Dish Network are pursuing legal action in the U.S. to stop Starlink’s expansion.

- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion from Viasat July 20 to halt Starlink’s deployment while it seeks to compel a thorough environmental review of the megaconstellation.

- Ofcom said in its consultation document that it recognizes “the growing significance of these new systems to the space sector more broadly and will be considering this in more detail as part of our Space Sector Spectrum Strategy,” which will be published this fall.

• June 29, 2021: Indian telecom company Bharti Global is set to own the largest share of low-Earth-orbit broadband venture OneWeb, after investing an extra $500 million to complete the constellation’s funding. 48)

- Bharti and the British government jointly bought OneWeb out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for $1 billion in 2020, rescuing the startup in the middle of a pandemic that had disrupted its funding plans.

- Japanese internet giant SoftBank, which was the venture’s largest shareholder before OneWeb fell into bankruptcy, invested $350 million in January and U.S.-based antenna maker Hughes Network Systems injected $50 million.

- In April, French satellite operator Eutelsat paid $550 million for what would have given it a 24% stake in OneWeb.

- However, Bharti had a call option to increase its holding, which it said June 29 it had activated.

- That gives the Indian group 38.6% of the company. The U.K. government, Eutelsat and Softbank will each own 19.3% — if Eutelsat and Bharti’s latest investments get regulatory clearances later this year.

- OneWeb said another call option exists that might change its final shareholder structure in the future.

- Bharti’s investment means OneWeb has secured the $2.4 billion it needs for deploying 648 satellites by 2022, providing connectivity to enterprise, government, maritime and aviation customers.

- Arianespace is due to launch another batch of 36 satellites for OneWeb July 1, from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, expanding its network to 254 in orbit as it prepares to start partial services this year.

- That launch will also give OneWeb coverage north of 50 degrees latitude, spanning the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada.

- SpaceX’s Starlink LEO broadband constellation is estimated to have more than 1,600 in orbit following an aggressive launch campaign.

- Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, recently said it will be able to provide global coverage by around September — dependent on various regulatory approvals.

- However, OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said his startup has the advantage of having a “significantly lower entry cost of any LEO” broadband constellation.

- “We benefit from $3.4bn of pre-Chapter 11 investment by the original shareholders, making new OneWeb a three-times lower cost Constellation,” Masterson said in a statement.

- “With the forthcoming launch we will have completed 40% of our Network. We are intently focused on execution and just ten more launches will enable us to deliver global coverage. Investors have backed the extraordinary efforts of the OneWeb team to deliver more of the global connectivity the World needs.”

• May 26, 2021: Eutelsat’s investment in OneWeb may be incompatible with continued participation in the European Union’s proposed satellite broadband constellation, an EU official warned. 49)

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Figure 17: Thierry Breton (right), EU commissioner for the internal market, whose portfolio includes space, visited the offices of the newly renamed EU Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA) in Prague May 24 (image credit: EUSPA)

- Eutelsat is part of an industry consortium that received a study contract from the European Commission in December 2020 to examine the feasibility of a European satellite constellation to provide secure communications and broadband services, particularly for underserved parts of Europe. The contract, which includes a wide range of European space and telecommunications companies, is worth 7.1 million euros ($8.7 million) and will last a year.

- Eutelsat, though, is also taking investing in OneWeb, the broadband constellation that emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year after being acquired by the British government and Indian telecommunications company Bharti Global. Eutelsat announced April 27 it was acquiring a 24% stake in OneWeb for $550 million.

- Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner whose portfolio includes space, suggested in a call with reporters May 24 that Eutelsat’s OneWeb stake may pose a conflict of interest. “Personally, I do not see how, structurally and in governance, an entity can have stakes in two competing projects,” he said when asked about Eutelsat’s investment in OneWeb.

- He said he did not oppose, in general, Eutelsat’s investment in OneWeb. “They are free to do it, of course. I don’t want to prevent it,” he said. “However, we took a good note of the decision of Eutelsat to invest into a project in direct competition with the European initiative that we’re working on.”

- He emphasized the importance of the satellite communications project to the “strategic autonomy” of Europe. “It is therefore important to preserve the interests of the Union,” he said, including reconsidering Eutelsat’s continued participation in the project.

- Eutelsat, in comments last week after a conference session about the status of EU constellation study, argued that the two projects are not in conflict with each other, since the EU effort is focused more on the needs of European institutions, while OneWeb is doing business with companies and governments worldwide.

- Breton suggested he was unhappy with the industry group’s progress on the satellite communications study. “To tell you the truth, it was very interesting, it was important, but not too innovative,” he said of the first results from that effort. He said the EU will commission a second study involving smaller businesses and startups, rather that the larger companies involved in the first one. They will provide a report within two months. “My dream will be to be able to go on vacation with this new study.”

- The briefing was linked to Breton’s visit to the offices of the EU Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA), the former European Agency for Global Navigation Satellite Systems that was rebranded, with an expanded mandate, earlier this year. EUSPA’s focus will expand beyond the Galileo satellite navigation program to include the Copernicus series of Earth observation satellites as well as satellite communications and space situational awareness.

- The creation of EUSPA led some in the European space community to believe the EU was trying to create a competitor to the European Space Agency, an independent organization outside the EU umbrella. Both the EU and ESA have worked to clarify that EUSPA will carry out different roles than ESA, focusing more on operations than research and development.

- “EUSPA is more focused, if I may say so, on exploitation of Galileo,” he said, and later with Copernicus. “ESA is more of the design architect for the future generation of our satellites.”

- The EU and ESA are still finalizing what’s known as the Financial Framework Partnership Agreement that governs the roles and responsibilities of the two nations as they work on joint projects like Copernicus and Galileo. Breton said those negotiations are nearly complete, with a goal of completing it by June 22.

- “I’m very happy with the cooperation that we have with the new director general of ESA,” he said, referring to Josef Aschbacher, who took over the job in March.

• May 24, 2021: A OneWeb-led group has secured government funding to launch a beam-hopping satellite in 2022, demonstrating how a spacecraft could switch its coverage area in real-time to respond to surges in demand. 50)

- OneWeb, which has launched a third of its initial 650-strong constellation to LEO (Low Earth Orbit), said the so-called Joey-Sat spacecraft will test capabilities for a second-generation network it aims to start launching in 2025.

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Figure 18: Joey-Sat’s beam-hopping technology could be used on OneWeb's next-generation constellation (image credit: OneWeb)

- The UK Space Agency awarded the group 32 million British pounds ($45 million) for the pilot mission, through ESA’s Sunrise program.

- OneWeb, partly owned by the British government, is teaming up with antenna maker SatixFy, ground station technology firm Celestia UK and satellite servicing startup Astroscale UK.

- SatixFy is getting the largest share of the funding at 25 million British pounds to build Joey-Sat’s beam-hopping payload and user terminal.

- According to SatixFy, the technology is the next step for HTS (High Throughput Satellites) that have been developing spot beam technology over the last decade.

- Joey-Sat’s design will enable it to remotely direct beams to increase capacity at higher usage areas in response to commercial demand spikes or emergencies such as natural disasters.

- In March, SatixFy agreed to build an in-flight connectivity terminal for OneWeb that will work with its LEO constellation, as well as geostationary (GEO) satellite systems operated by others.

- “From helping during a disaster to providing broadband on planes, this amazing technology will show how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit all of us on Earth,” U.K. Science Minister Amanda Solloway said in a statement.

- “It is fantastic to see some of our finest space tech companies joining forces on this exciting project which will put the UK at the forefront of satellite communications technology.”

- SatixFy also entered a deal in March with Canadian satellite operator Telesat, giving it early access to modem chips that can support beam hopping for the Lightspeed LEO constellation it is developing.

- Celestia secured 4.4 million British pounds in Sunrise funding to trial ground station technology featuring a multibeam electronically steered antenna.

- Astroscale got 2.5 million British pounds to develop technologies that could safely deorbit unresponsive satellites like Joey-Sat.

- Its funding will support a servicing spacecraft it is developing called ELSA-m, which will demonstrate capabilities in 2024 for removing multiple retired satellites in a single mission.

- Astroscale’s ELSA-d servicer is currently in orbit, planning to conduct its first end-to-end test of technologies for debris removal this summer.

- “This ambitious project with OneWeb is the next step towards maturing our technologies and refining our UK capabilities to develop a full-service Active Debris Removal offering by 2024,” Astroscale UK managing director John Auburn said.

- Auburn added: “This multi-client strategy will drive down service costs and incentivise large satellite constellation partners to accelerate the speed at which they remove space junk.”

- Currently, Astroscale’s spacecraft can only latch onto satellites with compatible docking plates, and OneWeb is so far the only constellation that has added them to its spacecraft.

U.K. space boost

- The U.K. government sees debris cleanup and other emerging space markets as an important part of its strategy to capture 10% of the world’s space economy by 2030.

- In its latest update on reaching this target, included in its “Size and Health of the UK Space Industry” report published May 19, the government said its share sood at 5.1%.

- The report covers the 2018-2019 financial year, meaning the data it obtained from organizations could be for any 12-month period within those years.

- The U.K.’s share of the world’s space market was unchanged from its last update, covering the 2017-2018 financial year, as growth matched that of the global industry.

- Income increased 5.7% over the period to 16.4 billion British pounds, while the number of organizations with space-related activity increased from 948 to 1,218.

- Space-related employment grew from 41,900 to 45,100 over the period. The amount of industry research and development investments surged 18% to 702 million British pounds, which it said was five times the national average intensity.

- “The UK space industry is booming and this strong growth is a key part of our plans to level up and build back better from the pandemic, creating thousands of high value space jobs in regions right across the UK,” Solloway said in a statement that joined the report.

- “As we look to fulfil our bold ambitions for space, including the first satellite launches from UK soil next year, I look forward to seeing the sector growing further with more young people pursuing exciting careers in space, all while helping to cement the UK’s status as a global space superpower.”

- The report, based on surveys conducted by consultancy know.space, also looked at diversity for the first time and found just 36.5% of space industry employees in the U.K. identify as female.

• May 10, 2021: OneWeb, the U.K.-headquartered low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband operator, is buying Texas-based managed satcoms provider TrustComm to create a new government subsidiary. 51)

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Figure 19: OneWeb's constellation grew to 182 satellites following its latest launch April 25, 2021 (image credit: Roscosmos, Space Center Vostochny, TsENKI)

- The deal comes soon after the U.S. AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory ) contracted OneWeb to demonstrate managed satcom services in Arctic locations.

- “OneWeb’s acquisition of TrustComm underpins our strategy to rapidly scale satellite communications service to the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies as they look to integrate high throughput, low latency solutions to meet new connectivity demands,” OneWeb head of government services Dylan Browne said in a statement.

- TrustComm CEO Bob Roe will lead a new subsidiary at OneWeb following the deal it expects to close this year, after regulatory approvals.

- OneWeb has only launched a third of its constellation of 650 satellites, but said it successfully demonstrated data rates of up to 500 Mbit/s to the DoD in March. It is advertising average network speeds of up to 195 Mbit/s.

- TrustComm signed an agreement March 16 to be OneWeb’s DoD distribution partner, focusing on early adopters including the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and U.S. Army Futures Research Lab.

- Established in 1999, TrustComm will be an important access point to the U.S government market for OneWeb, which expects the DoD will be its largest customer.

- The acquisition’s financial details were not disclosed.

- OneWeb’s 18-month contract with AFRL is worth about $3.4 million for testing services between certain U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) sites.

- The increasingly strategic Arctic region suffers from poor connectivity because of its high latitude and extreme terrain.

- OneWeb aims to offer services in the Arctic region this fall after two more launches, each placing 36 satellites in polar orbits.

- SpaceX has also been launching Starlink LEO broadband satellites into polar orbits.

- However, Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of the defense and intelligence systems division at Hughes, told SpaceNews May 5 that only OneWeb will be able to deliver 24-hour high throughput services to strategic Arctic regions by the end of 2021.

- U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems, a OneWeb investor supplying parts of its ground segment, is prime contractor for the AFRL contract.

• May 5, 2021: The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has contracted low Earth orbit broadband venture OneWeb to demo managed satcom services in strategic Arctic locations. 52)

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Figure 20: The OneWeb gateway in Svalbard, Norway, capable of 10,000 handoffs per second, is one of the gateways developed by Hughes that will orchestrate handover and tracking of gigabits of data for NORTHCOM [image credit: OneWeb/Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT)]

- Project prime contractor Hughes Network Systems, a OneWeb investor supplying parts of its ground segment, will test the services between certain U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) sites.

- “The OneWeb constellation has been designed to enable low-latency broadband access across the globe, allowing connectivity in previously unreached areas—a capability that is ideal for tactical, multi-domain operations in the Polar region and beyond,” OneWeb head of government services Dylan Browne said in a statement.

- The Department of Defense contract is part of the U.S. Air Force’s Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) program.

- OneWeb’s satellites are in polar orbits, and Browne told SpaceNews in March that this gives the company an advantage for Arctic regions of growing geopolitical interest.

- Currently, only Iridium Communications boasts pole-to-pole satcom coverage.

- However, SpaceX launched its first batch of Starlink LEO broadband satellites to polar orbit Jan. 24, supplementing the growing number of spacecraft it is sending to other orbits.

- In December 2018, SpaceX secured a three-year, $28 million contract under the DEUCSI program to test ways the military could use Starlink.

- Several other companies, including hardware providers Ball Aerospace, L3Harris, Raytheon and others, have also secured contracts under DEUCSI to explore how commercial broadband services could be integrated with military platforms.

- Nearly 1,500 Starlinks are currently in orbit, following SpaceX’s latest launch of 60 satellites May 4.

- SpaceX recently modified its license to operate 4,408 Starlinks at around 550 kilometers.

- OneWeb has 182 of a constellation of about 650 in orbit at around 1,200 kilometers, following its latest launch April 25.

- The company plans to start offering services in the Arctic region this fall after launching two more batches of 36 satellites.

- U.S.-based Hughes, which is producing the company’s gateway equipment and user terminal core modules, is managing the Arctic service demos for the U.S. Air Force. It is partnering with South Korea’s Intellian, the antenna maker designing OneWeb’s user terminals.

- “This opportunity reinforces the relationship between Hughes and the U.S. Air Force to ensure resilient, flexible SATCOM networks for tactical, multi-domain operations,” stated Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of the defense and intelligence systems division at Hughes.

- “We look forward to partnering with OneWeb to bring LEO innovation into the military SATCOM enterprise, especially in the strategic Arctic region where connectivity has been limited—until now.”

- Lober told SpaceNews in an email that it will start staging the LEO network in “the next few months” at Hughes and government locations in the U.S., before moving to the Arctic this fall.

- “This particular contract covers experimentation only,” he said.

- “As the system matures and other DoD users such as NORTHCOM develop specific requirements, a service contract is a possible option through various contract vehicles.”

- He added: “Our understanding is the Hughes-OneWeb team will deliver the only system with high throughput service to support the strategic Arctic region, 24 hours per day by the end of this year.”

- An AFRL spokesperson said the contract value is about $3.4 million.

- The British government and Indian telecom company Bharti Global bought OneWeb out of bankruptcy last year with a $1 billion investment. In January this year, OneWeb raised $350 million from Japanese internet giant SoftBank and $50 million from Hughes.

- After a $550 million investment April 27 from French satellite operator Eutelsat, OneWeb is expected to raise about $500 million this year to complete the constellation’s funding.

• April 27, 2021: French satellite operator Eutelsat is paying $550 million to buy part of OneWeb, the startup deploying a broadband network in low Earth orbit. 53)

- The company is buying a 24% stake to give it similar governance rights to the British government and Indian telecom company Bharti Global, which bought OneWeb out of bankruptcy last year.

- Part of the investment will be funded by the $507 million that Eutelsat is getting from clearing C-band spectrum in the U.S. for terrestrial 5G networks.

- The Paris-based company operates a fleet of geostationary (GEO) satellites, but has been dipping its toes into LEO with a constellation called Eutelsat ELO, targeting the market for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

- The first nanosatellite for this network, ELO Alpha, is slated to launch April 20 on a Vega rocket that is delayed following a launch failure in November.

- Buying a part of OneWeb’s LEO broadband constellation is a major strategy shift for Eutelsat, which is seeing its satellite TV business slowly decline as Netflix and other streaming services rise in popularity.

- “OneWeb will become our main growth engine outside our broadcast and broadband applications, as we continue to maximize cash-flow extraction from our highly profitable heritage business and grow our fixed broadband vertical leveraging our geostationary assets,” Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer said in a statement.

- Arianespace launched the latest batch of 36 OneWeb spacecraft April 25, growing the operator’s satellites to 182 ahead of partial services this year.

- OneWeb aims to launch two more batches of 36 satellites by June to expand coverage north of 50 degrees latitude, spanning the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada.

- It expects to provide global services with 650 satellites in 2022 to enterprise, government, maritime and aviation customers.

- Following the investment from Eutelsat, which will give the French company a board seat, OneWeb’s LEO fleet could potentially find synergies with broadband satellites in GEO.

- Canadian GEO satellite operator Telesat, which plans to start launching its LEO broadband constellation Lightspeed next year, was previously the only megaconstellation player exploring this kind of opportunity.

- Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb’s executive chair, said: “Together we are stronger, benefiting from the entrepreneurial energy of Bharti, extensive global outreach of UK and long-term expertise of the satellite industry at Eutelsat.”

$1.9 billion in fresh equity

- OneWeb emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November with a $1 billion investment from Bharti and the British government — each owning 42.2% at the time.

- The startup said Jan. 15 it raised $350 million from SoftBank, which was its largest shareholder before it filed for Chapter 11, and $50 million from Hughes Network Systems.

- Comments made earlier by Mittal suggest that, following Eutelsat’s investment, the company now needs to raise about $500 million to complete the constellation.

- Eutelsat said April 27 that OneWeb is “well advanced in terms of securing its remaining funding needs this year.”

- OneWeb expects to generate around $1 billion in annual revenues in three to five years after deploying its full constellation.

- Eutelsat said it is set to close its OneWeb deal in the second half of this year following regulatory approvals.

• April 8, 2021: The new chief executive of OneWeb says the company is still pursuing some kind of navigation capability for its broadband satellite constellation, although a full-fledged service may have to wait until a second-generation system. 54)

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Figure 21: OneWeb and Softbank say negotiations with Intelsat for exclusive capacity distribution rights never reached a conclusion (image credit: OneWeb)

- Neil Masterson, a former executive with Thomson Reuters who was named chief executive of OneWeb when it emerged from bankruptcy in November 2020, said the company was planning to demonstrate a navigation service later this year, working with unnamed British organizations. The British government, along with Indian telecom company Bharti Global, acquired OneWeb out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.

- “We expect to have a demo capability available later this year, and we’re working with certain bodies in the U.K. to advance our thinking there and help design that,” he said during a session of the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum April 7. “We think that there’s something that can be done with the existing Gen 1 design. It’s a bit premature to talk about that right now, but we’re quite focused on that.”

- His comments echo those made by OneWeb’s executive chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal, who said in December that the first-generation satellites could provide a timing service, but that a full-fledged PNT (Positioning, Navigating and Timing) system would have to wait until a second generation of satellites. “We have the ambition of providing PNT services through OneWeb,” he said. “We believe we will be onto this path in the coming years.

- Masterson also said that a full PNT system would have to wait until a second generation of the constellation. “To be a real alternative to GPS, we’ll have to wait until the second generation,” he said. “It is possible to provide some form of PNT services that are good enough, and certainly able to provide a form of redundancy. And that is where we will start from.”

- The British government’s decision to partner with Bharti on acquiring OneWeb has been linked in the minds of many in the industry in the government’s desire for its own satellite navigation system. After exiting the European Union, the British government can no longer access secure Galileo services sued by European militaries. The British government studied, but then abandoned, proposals to develop a standalone satellite navigation system.

- Using OneWeb for navigation services would face many challenges, including the fact that it does not use frequencies reserved for satellite navigation services like GPS and Galileo. There have been, however, studies about using low Earth orbit satellite constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink to provide alternative navigation services.

- Masterson offered no clues in his presentation about when OneWeb might pursue a second-generation system that could include a dedicated PNT service or other capabilities. The company’s focus is on deploying its initial constellation of 648 satellites to provide broadband services, which the company expects to complete next year. Service in polar regions north of 50 degrees latitude could begin later this year after three more Soyuz launches of 36 satellites each.

- “We’re starting to think about it already,” he said of a second-generation system. “I would like to hold off a little while before we make firm decisions on that because I really want to hear from our customers about what they want.”

- OneWeb, besides continuing to deploy those first-generation satellites, still needs to raise about $1 billion to complete the system. “We feel very confident about finding the remaining funding,” he said. He declined to offer a schedule for raising that funding.

• April 7, 2021: As part of its mission to deliver low latency, ‘fibre-like’ connectivity to the maritime and offshore industries, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband satellite communications company OneWeb, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The AST Group (AST), a global leader in satellite communications systems. 55)

- By working together, AST and OneWeb will offer fixed-land and maritime customers access to OneWeb’s fast, flexible and affordable connectivity solutions seamlessly in even the most remote locations on land and at sea. Customer beta trials will be undertaken with AST before the end of the year and will be focused on delivering fixed services to support remote connectivity in Northern Europe.

- Once full commercial service is available in 2022, OneWeb seeks to provide AST’s customers, primarily in the commercial shipping, fishing and high-end offshore sectors, with access to viable, high speed, low latency connectivity as an alternative to the current VSAT internet solutions to truly enable digitization and deliver the long-awaited leap in operational efficiencies.

- This comes at a time when regulatory and commercial influences are driving demand for companies in maritime and offshore industries to decarbonise, improve broader sustainability and governance standards as well as improving business performance – all of which are underpinned by the need for more technology and data.

- Commenting on the partnership, Gregory Darling, AST’s founder and Chairman said: “We’re delighted to strengthen our relationship with OneWeb by becoming its distribution partner so that we can offer customers a fibre-like alternative to current solutions. AST’s focus is solution-based to ensure that customers improve their overall operational efficiency. OneWeb’s new satellite constellation and next-generation connectivity aligned with AST’s INTEGRA network services will enable faster and better communications for the maritime industry. This new agreement marks further progress towards this transition.”

- Carole Plessy, Head of Maritime at OneWeb, said: “OneWeb believes that connectivity at sea should be as seamless and simple as it is onshore to improve the overall efficiency, sustainability and profitability of the maritime and offshore industries.

- We’re proud to work with The AST Group, not just because of the strength of its market insight, reach and capabilities, but because of our shared belief that remote, faultless connectivity is essential to delivering operational excellence. By partnering with AST, we are another step closer to making LEO connectivity available to more marine and offshore customers, ending the legacy of complex, slow and costly VSAT systems.”

• March 28, 2021: OneWeb plans to start offering broadband from space in the Arctic region this fall, a capability the company hopes will attract U.S. government and other national government customers. 56)

- “Our focus now is Alaska and the Arctic,” OneWeb’s head of government services Dylan Browne told SpaceNews.

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Figure 22: OneWeb has 14 operational antennas in Svalbard, Norway, hosted by KSAT Kongsberg Satellite Services (image credit: OneWeb)

- Since OneWeb came back from bankruptcy in November “we’ve been busy setting up engagements with the U.S. government,” Browne said. The company is now owned by the British government and Indian telecom company Bharti Global.

- OneWeb is racing to provide coverage in the Arctic where currently only Iridium offers satellite-based communications services. Following the latest launch of 36 satellites on March 25, OneWeb has 146 in operation. Browne said the company needs to deploy three more batches of 36 satellites to cover areas north of 50 degrees latitude, which would include Alaska and much of the Arctic region. The company is planning a constellation of about 650 satellites for global coverage.

- OneWeb satellites orbit around the poles. “Every time we put a satellite up we get a concentration above the poles which is really serendipitous because from a government and DoD perspective, that’s an area of geopolitical interest,” Browne said.

- “LEO scratches an itch for some of the new and emerging challenges the Department of Defense has,” he added.

- The Arctic has become an area of strategic interest where melting ice caps have set off a race for resources, and Russia and China are trying to grow their influence. The ability to provide coverage in the Arctic gives OneWeb an advantage over competitors, said Browne. “It sounds a bit cliche but timing is everything.”

- The demand for satellite-based communications in the Arctic is coming from both the commercial and government sides, Browne said. Industries like oil and gas are target customers, but the immediate requests are coming from governments, he said. “We literally just got a request from the office of the prime minister of Finland,” he added. “We have a strong engagement with Norway. This week we did a briefing for Icelandic regulators. They need high speed, low latency satellite connectivity for their maritime patrols.”

- OneWeb on Friday announced an agreement with satellite communications integrator and reseller TrustComm Inc. to distribute services to U.S. military users in northern latitudes.

- TrustComm has an operations center at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, and holds a number of DoD contract vehicles to provide managed satellite services. Browne said the U.S. Navy is one TrustComm’s major customers and will be using OneWeb’s services to provide connectivity to ships at sea.

- The coverage in the Arctic initially will be only for fixed sites. Starting in 2022 mobile services will be available, said Browne. That’s important for Navy and Coast Guard units that will be patrolling the waters.

- To increase its footprint in the U.S. military, OneWeb is hoping to get a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to participate in a program known as DEUCSI (Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet). AFRL already has signed up several companies to help figure out how commercial broadband services would be integrated with military platforms.

- OneWeb also plans to compete for DoD contracts managed by the U.S. Space Force’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office. A solicitation for LEO satellite services is expected to be released this summer.

- The company also wants to work with DoD’s SDA (Space Development Agency) even though OneWeb’s network does not have inter-satellite links, which SDA requires so data can be moved around the world without having to send it back to ground stations. Browne said OneWeb’s current generation of spacecraft was not designed to have inter-satellites links but the company plans to incorporate that technology in the future.

• March 19, 2021: Flight passengers will soon be able to connect to their families and colleagues on Earth via low-orbit telecommunications satellites. 57)

- Speeds will be comparable to those at home, substantially boosting the service currently provided by geostationary satellites.

- On 19 March, communications company OneWeb signed an agreement to deliver Wi-Fi on aircraft with SatixFy, a British manufacturer of electronic components.

- They will develop in-flight connectivity terminals that will work over OneWeb’s constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, as well as on geostationary satellite networks.

- OneWeb currently has 110 satellites in orbit but foresees a constellation of about 650.

- The terminals will use electronically steered multi-beam antenna technologies to provide multi-beam capability and operate simultaneously via many different satellites.

- The terminals use SatixFy’s state-of-the-art application-specific integrated circuit chip set, developed with the support of the UK Space Agency through ESA’s ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) program.

- SatixFy has formed a joint venture called JetTalk with Singapore Technology Engineering Ltd to commercialize the terminal for commercial aviation markets.

- Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, says: “Space and satellites are becoming increasingly important to the digital economy and there is a need to get data all the time and everywhere – even on board a plane.

- “ESA is proud to have supported SatixFy in the design of the chips used for this terminal – enabling the digital transformation of society using telecommunications satellites.”

- Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth at the UK Space Agency, says: “The past year has shown that connectivity has never been more important to our daily lives, and it is exciting to see SatixFy and OneWeb working together to provide commercial passenger planes with broadband internet for the first time.

- “The new aero terminal will make use of chips developed with UK Space Agency backing, which demonstrates how supporting our most innovative companies leads to results that make a real difference for people all over the world.”

- Yoel Gat, chief executive of SatixFy, says: “The ability to deploy multi-beam, multi-satellite, multi-orbit in-flight connectivity terminals is key in SatixFy’s offerings. Aggregating capacity from multiple satellites will give customers the grade of service they expect to get on flights. This great leap forward is made possible thanks to the continuous support by ESA and the UK Space Agency.”

• March 8, 2021: Intellian Technologies Inc. with HQs in Korea announced that it has won a US$73 million contract with low earth orbit (LEO) satellite network provider OneWeb to develop and supply affordable compact user terminals. These innovative, easily-installed antennas will use next-generation technology to provide high bandwidth, low latency connectivity to OneWeb’s global satellite service, delivering to multiple markets including enterprise and government services. 58)

- “We’re delighted to collaborate with our trusted partner OneWeb to design and produce this game-changing terminal, which is set to transform satellite communications by delivering cost-effective connectivity and enhanced user experience to multiple markets,” said Eric Sung, CEO, Intellian Technologies. “This is another significant milestone for Intellian: we believe that innovation and ease of use are key to empowering connectivity, and the work jointly announced today by Intellian and OneWeb is fundamental to our goal to enable a globally connected world.”

- OneWeb is launching a constellation of 648 LEO satellites, which when complete will deliver affordable, fast, high bandwidth and low latency Ku-band connectivity to every corner of the world.

- Michele Franci, Chief of System Delivery at OneWeb, said: “We have a clear ambition to be a leader in the transformation of Space communications technology. We are delighted to continue our work with Intellian to develop a range of User Terminals that meet the needs of our customers in many different sectors including: small, medium and large enterprises; and major vertical sectors such as Enterprise, Maritime and Governments with mission critical applications.”

- The new low cost compact terminals will be unveiled later in the year and are scheduled to become available in 2022.

• March 18, 2021: The next Arianespace mission is planned from Vostochny Cosmodrome with Soyuz on March 25, to deliver 36 satellites into orbit. 59)

- By operating this fifth flight on behalf of OneWeb, Arianespace will bring the total fleet to 146 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Arianespace is proud to share in the fulfilment of its customer’s ultimate ambition: providing internet access for everyone, everywhere.

- Flight ST30, the second commercial mission performed by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, will put 36 of OneWeb’s satellites into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers. The mission will have a total duration of three hours and 51 minutes and will include nine separations of four satellites, that will raise themselves to their operational orbit. This launch will bring up to speed Arianespace’s operations this year to the benefit of OneWeb, and will raise to 146 the number of satellites deployed for the global telecommunications operator.

- OneWeb’s mission is to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit. OneWeb’s constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services to a wide range of customer sectors including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, as well as governments, emergency response services and more. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every place where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.

- Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE (Long Term Evolution), 5G and Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) coverage, providing high-speed access globally – by air, sea and land.

- OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, is the constellation’s prime contractor. The satellites were built thanks to its leading-edge satellite manufacturing process that can build up to two satellites a day on a series production line dedicated to the assembly, integration, and testing of the satellites.

- A total of 110 OneWeb satellites have already been orbited by Arianespace: the first six were successfully orbited by Arianespace from French Guiana on February 27, 2019. On February and March 2020, Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate successfully launched 68 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on two successful Soyuz flights. On December 2020, the team successfully delivered an additional 36 satellites into orbit, with first commercial flight operated from new Vostochny Cosmodrome.

• January 15, 2021: Broadband satellite company OneWeb announced Jan. 15 it has raised $400 million from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, allowing the company to continue deployment of its constellation. 60)

- The new round includes $350 million from SoftBank, who was the biggest shareholder in OneWeb before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020. The remainder is from Hughes Network Systems, which announced last year it would invest $50 million into the restructured company.

- The companies did not disclose the new size of SoftBank’s stake in the company, but OneWeb announced that the Japanese company would get a seat on its board. According to an October notice by the Federal Communications Commission, SoftBank owned 12.3% of the company at the time, after owning 37.41% before the Chapter 11 filing.

- The same FCC notice said that Hughes’ planned investment was still being finalized, but that the investment would not have a “meaningful impact” on OneWeb’s ownership, with Hughes holding a 2.6% stake. The British government and Indian telecom company Bharti Global, which acquired OneWeb for $1 billion, each owned 42.2% of the company at that time.

- The funding will help support the company as it continues deployment of an initial constellation of 648 satellites. “We have made rapid progress to restart the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November,” said Neil Masterson, chief executive of OneWeb, in a statement. “We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal.”

- OneWeb said the funding “positions the company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet,” but the $400 million alone is insufficient to fund the company through full deployment of the constellation, expected to be completed in mid-2022. Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises and executive chairman of OneWeb, said last month he expected OneWeb would need $2.5 billion to complete the constellation, of which about half had been raised. That suggests the company still needs to raise about $1 billion.

- Bharti Mittal, though, was optimistic about getting that additional funding. “I don’t see raising capital for this wonderful project for the balance amount to be any issue,” he said, noting that Bharti Enterprises had raised more than $12 billion in the last 18–24 months for other projects.

- OneWeb said last month that they expected to perform launches on a roughly monthly schedule to complete the constellation, with enough satellites in orbit by the fall of 2021 to enable service to begin at latitudes above 50 degrees north. Global service would begin in 2022, once the full constellation is in orbit.

- OneWeb resumed launches of that constellation, halted by the Chapter 11 filing, Dec. 18, with the deployment of 36 satellites on a Soyuz rocket. The company has not announced a date for its next launch.

- In addition to that initial constellation, the company is working on a larger “Phase Two” constellation. In a Jan. 12 filing with the FCC, OneWeb sought to modify its original application by reducing the number of satellites in that Phase Two system from 47,844 to 6,372.

• December 16, 2020: Hughes Network Systems, LLC has been chosen by OneWeb, the LEO (Low Earth Orbit) broadband satellite communications company, to develop and manufacture essential ground system technology for the new LEO constellation. In a three-year contract valued at approximately $250 million, Hughes will produce the gateway electronics for the OneWeb system as well as the core module that will be used in every user terminal. 61)

- “Today’s announcement of a continued technology partnership with OneWeb reflects our position as the trusted innovator in the industry,” said Pradman Kaul, president, Hughes. “The ground system we develop will enable reliable, low latency broadband data, ideal for a wide range of customer applications.”

- Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb, said: “OneWeb is building a global broadband network to deliver high-throughput, low latency enterprise grade connectivity services for a wide range of government, commercial, and mobility use cases. Our goal is to commercialize services in a year, and our partnership with Hughes will be vital in helping us launch a secure, trusted, resilient, space-based network.”

- Designed by Hughes engineers, each OneWeb gateway is capable of 10,000 hand-offs per second, orchestrating handover and tracking of hundreds of gigabits of data across hundreds of beams and millions of users. Under an agreement with OneWeb prior to a restructuring in March, seven gateways had been installed with several more in various stages of production. Under the new agreement, Hughes has ramped up production on the gateway equipment and resumed testing on the installed systems.

- The agreement announced today also calls for Hughes to develop and manufacture the core module for the OneWeb user terminals. Designed by Hughes, the core module is uniquely adaptable across fixed as well as aeronautical and maritime mobility terminals, for either electronically or mechanically steered antennas.

- After filing for bankruptcy protection in March, OneWeb is now under ownership by a new consortium led by the U.K. Government and Bharti Enterprises and in which Hughes has agreed in principle to invest $50 million.

• December 1, 2020: Florida-based OneWeb Satellites has returned to full-scale production of spacecraft after its big client and part owner, OneWeb, emerged from bankruptcy. 62)

- The high-tech factory near Kennedy Space Center churns out eight satellites a week, which is the average pace it was on before the bankruptcy, CEO Tony Gingiss said in an interview Friday.

- "We are stronger and leaner as an organization now," Gingiss said. "We hit pause, like many others had to in 2020, due to the pandemic and the OneWeb bankruptcy, but it made us think a lot about our value proposition."

- The company is leaner because it is operating with just less than 300 people, whereas the plant had almost 400 at its peak in early 2020, he said. OneWeb Satellites plans to hire only about 15 to 20 more to maintain full production.

- OneWeb Satellites' facility began operations in March 2019, to build satellites for OneWeb's planned constellation of up to 650 broadband communications satellites. The company made over 70 satellites in 12 months, before the bankruptcy threw the operation into doubt.

- The pandemic was the reason for closing the factory for over a week, Gingiss said, and not the bankruptcy.

- "We hit pause because people wanted to take breaks for their health or their family's health, and to thoroughly clean the factory," Gingiss said. "But we did reopen and produced about one satellite per week at the low point."

- The manufacturer, which is half-owned by the OneWeb parent company, delivered 36 satellites recently for a planned launch in Russia on Dec. 17. OneWeb has 74 satellites in orbit.

November 20, 2020: Acquisition of global satellite communications company, OneWeb, completes today, following successful government bid in July 2020. 63)

- This is a significant strategic investment, demonstrating the government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector and ambition to put Britain at the forefront of a new commercial space-age. OneWeb is now staffing up to complete the development of its first generation constellation, adding new employees in the UK, and we will continue to work with OneWeb to maximise the benefits to the UK from the OneWeb program, both before and after commercial launch.

- The company has the foundation of the network already in place with 74 satellites launched and infrastructure in development in strategic locations around the world. The company is launching another 34-36 satellites in December, bringing its in-orbit fleet to 110 satellites. OneWeb is on track to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and will expand to delivering global services in 2022.